Oklahoma Governor Vetoes “Insane” Abortion Bill

She said the “life” exception provided in the bill was “vague.”

Oklahoma Gov. Mary FallinSue Ogrocki/AP

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On Friday afternoon, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed a bill that would have made performing most abortions a felony in the state. On Thursday, the Oklahoma Senate passed the bill 33-12, with no floor debate. During the voting process, Sen. Ervin Yen, the sole state senator who is a physician, called the measure “insane.”

As Mother Jones reported in April, the bill would make performing abortions, except for those intended to save a woman’s life, a felony punishable by a minimum of one year in prison.

If it is discovered that they have provided an abortion, doctors would be stripped of their state medical licenses. The only exception to these rules would be abortions to save the life of the mother, and the bill makes clear that the threat of suicide by a woman seeking an abortion doesn’t fulfill the “life” requirement.

Had the bill been signed into law by Gov. Fallin, it would most certainly have led to a protracted and costly legal battle over the bill’s constitutionality, since its near total ban on abortion goes against Roe v. Wade—the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. However, the prospect of litigation is not what Fallin took issue with when rejecting the bill. Instead, she said that the “life” exception provided in the bill was “vague.”

“The bill is so ambiguous and so vague that doctors cannot be certain what medical circumstances would be considered ‘necessary to preserve the life of the mother,'” Fallin said. “While I consistently have and continue to support a re-examination of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, this legislation cannot accomplish that re-examination. In fact, the most direct path to a re-examination of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade is the appointment of a conservative, pro-life justice to the United States Supreme Court.”

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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