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Okla. Antiabortion Bills Await Gov.'s Decision; Tenn. AG Issues Opinion on Bill Restricting Abortion Coverage

Okla. Antiabortion Bills Await Gov.'s Decision; Tenn. AG Issues Opinion on Bill Restricting Abortion Coverage

April 21, 2010 — Officials in Oklahoma and Tennessee commented on various antiabortion bills that are before the states' governors.

~ Okla.: Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry (D) continues to evaluate a series of antiabortion bills that would allow doctors to withhold test results showing fetal anomalies and require women to complete a lengthy questionnaire, undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the embryo or fetus, among other measures, the AFP/Google News reports. Several of the provisions are similar to measures struck down as unconstitutional earlier this year, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. If Henry signs the bills, which the state Senate approved Monday, Oklahoma's abortion restrictions would be among the most "extreme" in the nation, CRR said in a statement that urged the governor to veto the legislation. On Tuesday, Henry spokesperson Thomas Larson declined to comment on the governor's intentions, adding, "Our office has not yet reviewed the final version of the legislation and it's our standard policy not to comment on pending legislation until doing so" (AFP/Google News, 4/20).

~ Tenn.: A Tennessee attorney general's opinion released Tuesday -- a day after lawmakers approved a ban on state-backed insurance coverage for abortion services within plans under the federal health reform law (PL 111-148) -- addressed whether the language restricts coverage of birth control and mifepristone, the Tennessean reports (Sisk, Tennessean, 4/21) According to the opinion, the bill's (SB 2686) definition of abortion would "not impact forms of birth control that may result in the expulsion of a fertilized egg before it is implanted in the uterine lining," including IUDs, emergency contraception and some birth control pills. It goes on to say that "on a case-by-case- basis, administration of mifepristone could constitute an 'abortion' if it were used after implantation of an embryo in the uterine lining" (Opinion text, 4/19). The bill awaits Gov. Phil Bredesen's (D) signature or veto (Tennessean, 4/21).