Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Defeat OK Senate Bill 714

Senate Bill 714

The governor must sign or veto SB 714 by Wednesday, April 18, 2007. Please take action now!

Both houses of the legislature have now passed a bill that will prohibit termination of pregnancy at state-funded institutions except for the life of the mother. There is no exception for the health of the mother or lethal birth defects of the baby. This bill is touted as an anti-abortion bill by its proponents, but in reality it amounts to legislative interference in the medical decisions made by doctors and their patients.

The bill defines medical terms and defines "the unborn child" without the input of medical professionals or medical ethicists. The wording is vague and there is no indication of how the language with be interpreted, or by whom.

There are many maternal and fetal conditions that are medical indications for termination of pregnancy. Many compelling situations can exist that do not immediately threaten the life of the mother, but that can significantly impact her health. Doug Cox, M.D., the only physician in the legislature, proposed amendments to the bill that would give exceptions for maternal and fetal conditions, but these amendments were not allowed. The legislature has not been willing to listen to medical professionals during this process and has not held any public hearings about the provisions of the bill.

The impact of the bill is not limited to patients at public facilities. This bill prohibits private insurance companies from covering terminations except for the life of the mother. With the language of the bill the Legislature also captures political subdivisions of the state, including community-based hospitals like those in Elk City, Lawton, Norman and many other communities.

The Oklahoma State Medical Association, the Oklahoma section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Osteopathic Association, and the Nurses' Association all oppose this bill. These organizations do not take positions on abortion issues, but they all feel that this legislation inappropriately interferes with medical decision-making.

The only option to keep this bill from becoming law is to ask the Governor to veto the bill and ask the legislature to sustain the veto. The Senate needs only one more vote to sustain the veto.

Please contact the Governor by phone at (405) 521-2342 or through his website at www.governor.state.ok.us. You can contact your state senator at www.oksenate.gov/.

Contact the eight Democratic senators who voted for the bill and ask them to change their "yes" vote and uphold a veto of SB 714.

Please contact the sixteen senators who voted against the bill and thank them for their vote.