February 14, 2013 — The Oklahoma House Public Safety Committee on Tuesday passed three antiabortion measures, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
One measure (HB 2015) -- sponsored by Rep. Sean Roberts (R) -- would add more than two dozen questions to an already lengthy questionnaire abortion providers must complete under a 2010 state law.
Roberts said the bill is intended to update physician reporting requirements in accordance with changes in abortion laws since 2010.
State Rep. Doug Cox (R) -- an emergency room physician -- said the new questions are unnecessary. He suggested the changes are simply an attempt to overburden and intimidate abortion providers.
Bills on Judicial Bypass for Minors
The committee also voted 7-3 to approve two bills that would make it more difficult for a minor to obtain an abortion without parental consent. Oklahoma requires parental consent, but a minor in need of an abortion may seek a judicial bypass allowing her to obtain the procedure without involving her parents.
One of the bills (HB 1558) would completely eliminate the judicial bypass option. The second bill (HB 1361) would require that the minor's request be heard by a judge presiding in the county where she lives.
Abortion-rights opponents claimed that abortion providers are exploiting the system by seeking out judges who commonly grant the bypass. Tony Lauinger, chair of Oklahomans for Life, said the bypass has become "a rubber stamp for judges, many times who are identified by the abortion industry."
However, state Rep. Jeannie McDaniel (D) said that the judicial bypass process rarely is used in Oklahoma. Opponents of the bills also noted that the bypass process is critical to the safety of teenagers who could face abuse if their parents learned about a pregnancy.
Several States Seek To Limit Judicial Bypass
Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, said several states are taking steps to further restrict the use of judicial bypass.
Nash said, "The idea of tying all these criteria to the judicial bypass is not very effective in trying to assess an individual teen's situation. It also places a burden on the teen, where it's already hard enough to navigate the judicial process." She added, "What we're seeing here is part and parcel of making it more difficult for a teen to access abortion care" (Murphy, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/12).