The Oklahoma Senate advanced a bill last week that would ask voters to approve language declaring there is no right to an abortion in the state’s constitution.
Senate Bill 195, which passed by a vote of 40-8, would place an initiative on the ballot stating that “nothing in the Oklahoma Constitution secures or protects the right to perform or receive an abortion,” and which prevents judiciaries from interpreting any law in this light — stopping any future pro-choice laws in their tracks. The bill does not apply to babies who die as a result of a natural miscarriage, treatment of an ectopic pregnancy, accidental trauma, or criminal assault of the mother or her preborn child. The bill will now be sent to the House.
Previous versions of the bill included so-called “trigger language,” a colloquial term that would make intentionally terminating a pregnancy completely illegal in the state should Roe. v Wade be overturned. That language was removed by a committee. According to Fox 25, Senator Greg Treat (R), who authored the bill, hopes to pursue this language in another bill in the future.
The shift from a “trigger” law to the current proposed state constitutional amendment comes after the Senate said it would not hear the Abolish Abortion in Oklahoma Act, a bill which was controversial because it would make terminating a pregnancy a homicide punishable by up to life imprisonment. Senator Joseph Silk (R), who authored the act, claims the current constitutional amendment proposal does not go far enough to stop abortion in the state.
“Every year we come up here and offer pro-life legislation that essentially has no impact,” he said, according to the Oklahoman.
Senator Treat said that while he hoped one day that abortion will be illegal throughout the United States, he feels his constitutional amendment bill is a more appropriate, immediate measure to stop the Oklahoma judiciary from potentially expanding abortion in the state.
“I still hope and pray that one day soon the U.S. Supreme Court will correct the judicial mistake of the past that legalized abortion in Roe Versus Wade and Planned Parenthood Versus Casey. But it’s far more likely, in the short-term, that the Oklahoma Supreme Court finds an invented right to an abortion in the state constitution,” he said in a statement.
Opponents of the measure pointed out that any legal challenge against the measure would likely be successful, as the Oklahoma Supreme Court has twice ruled that the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution prevailed over previous attempts at abolishing abortion in the state of Oklahoma.
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