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Okla. Gov. Signs Two Bills Restricting Abortion Access

Okla. Gov. Signs Two Bills Restricting Abortion Access

April 21, 2011 — Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) on Wednesday signed two bills restricting access to abortion care in the state, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The first piece of legislation (HB 1888) prohibits abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the theory that a fetus can experience pain at that point. It allows exceptions to prevent impairment of a "major bodily function" or to save the life of the woman (Murphy, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 4/20).

Kate Neary-Pounds, director of Tulsa Reproductive Services, which will not be directly impacted by the law, said, "We are deeply disappointed that the governor has signed this harmful bill into law," adding, "This bill ignores women's individual circumstances and allows the Legislature to intervene between a woman and her doctor instead of allowing a woman to make decisions about her health and her family in consultation with her doctor. This bill is another indication of how little the Oklahoma Legislature respects and values women's health and rights" (Hoberock, Tulsa World, 4/21).

The second bill (SB 547) bars health insurance companies from providing plans that include abortion coverage in the state (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 4/20). Individuals can purchase abortion coverage separately (Tulsa World, 4/21).

Barbara Santee, former executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice America's Oklahoma office, said the two laws are "a frontal assault" on Roe v. Wade. She said, "This is just chipping away at a woman's right to choose" (Olafson, Reuters, 4/20).