Oklahoma Abortion Law – Not OK

In 1973 the Berger Supreme Court voted 7-2 on Roe v. Wade[1] to protect a woman’s right to an abortion while providing for more restrictive regulation in later trimesters. The argument that brought this ruling to the country was a woman’s right to privacy. The courts determined that the state had no business telling a women what she could or could not do with her body – abortion is considered a personal decision and a woman’s right to choose is to be honored and respected.

Having never personally been involved in a relationship that was involved in an abortion or even a decision to go one way or another with an unwanted pregnancy, I can only imagine how difficult a decision this is for anyone. Friends and acquaintances have gone through this and it is obviously a difficult choice, an unpleasant decision and something that is thought about throughout one’s life. As awful as it is, it is an individual right and not the duty of the government to tell women what to do – it is a personal and private decision.

Roe v. Wade’s role is to prevent the states from creating laws that would prevent women from being able to obtain a safe and legal abortion. Reasonable regulations and restrictions could be enacted at the state level but an out and out prohibition would be clearly unconstitutional and would be overturned at the federal level. This past week in Oklahoma a law was passed by overriding Governor Brad Henry’s veto only a few hours after the veto. The new law in Oklahoma went into effect immediately and will force the few remaining (unconfirmed reports state that there are only 3-4 doctors who perform abortions remaining in the state) doctors who provide this needed service to area women to force the woman to look at an ultrasound screen and even if she closes her eyes she must listen to the doctor describe what he sees. This is a scare tactic and a direct shot at a woman’s intelligence and her right to privacy in an important and personal decision.

Does the Oklahoma legislature truly believe a woman that has the courage to go to an abortion clinic or her doctor has not thought about what she is embarking on? People know what abortion is and what it does – it terminates a fetus and at least a potential life – as horrible as that sounds, many lives circumstances make it so this tough decision is the only viable choice for the individual. Even if one does not agree with this on moral, ethical or religious grounds the Supreme Court stated in Roe v. Wade that a woman has the right to privacy in these matters – apparently this does not matter in Oklahoma.

Tamya Cox, an attorney with ACLU in Oklahoma stated that this law will “scare and intimidate women”[2] from having an abortion. An unwanted pregnancy is traumatic enough – the new abortion law in Oklahoma makes no exceptions to the ultrasound viewing and lecturing from the doctor even in the case or rape or incest. The legislature’s holier than thou attitude is upsetting at best and psychologically damaging to the woman in the worse case scenario. The Oklahoma legislature is using sketchy semantics to influence their conservative views. Regarding the ultrasound viewing requirement bill sponsor Republican Rep. Lisa Johnson-Billy, said “The abortion provider needs to see the position of the baby and make sure she’s pregnant and see the gestational age of the infant.”[3]

Webster’s Dictionary defines an infant as “a child in the first period of life”[4] and a baby as an “extremely young child.”[5] A fetus is what is actually aborted – not an infant and not a baby. Killing a baby or an infant is called murder and has not been sanctioned to be legal and a matter of privacy for a woman. It would be nice to see Rep. Johnson-Billy use the proper language and not words that are designed to terrify an already frightened and distraught woman. In 1973 seven Supreme Court Justices voted to protect women and their right to privacy on a most personal issue imaginable – it is not Oklahoma or any other state’s right to take that right away.

Thank you to all of my readers – I am truly humbled by how many folks have been reading and commenting on my essays. If you like what your read – or even if you don’t please consider subscribing for updates by entering your e-mail address on the right-hand side of my blog page. Thanks again! – Mike


[1] 410 U.S. 113 (1973)

[2] http://network.nationalpost.com/NP/blogs/holy-post/archive/2010/04/29/oklahoma-abortion-bill-called-extreme.aspx

[3] http://abcnews.go.com/Health/okla-abortion-law-exceptions-rape/story?id=10507849&page=1

[4] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/infant

[5] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/baby

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2 Responses to “Oklahoma Abortion Law – Not OK”

  1. Dan Holway Says:

    I am very much “pro-abortion-choice”, and I oppose the Oklahoma law, but I am curious to see how this will play out in the courts. If, as you say, “Roe v. Wade’s role is to prevent the states from creating laws that would prevent women from being able to obtain a safe and legal abortion. Reasonable regulations and restrictions could be enacted at the state level but an out and out prohibition would be clearly unconstitutional and would be overturned at the federal level”, then what will be the argument to overturn it? It doesn’t prohibit abortions. It could easily be seen as a “reasonable regulation”, just as requiring a doctor to explain medical options to a patient who seeks to undergo cancer treatment or plastic surgery or whatever else might be.

  2. sapblatt Says:

    I agree in theory – this could be viewed as a “reasonable restriction” – but the fact that there are very few people in the state the offer abortion services and what I call “scare tactics” are being used on the patient I fear that this will make it very difficult for a woman to get an abortion in Oklahoma and that to me is not a reasonable restriction.

    Thank you for commenting.

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