Okla. House Panel Advances Abortion Clinic, Emergency Contraceptive Restrictions

April 3, 2014 — An Oklahoma House panel on Tuesday advanced two bills that would impose strict regulations on abortion clinics and restrict access to emergency contraception, the Tulsa World reports. The state Senate previously approved both bills.

Clinic Regulations

One bill (SB 1848) would require the state health board to develop operational standards for clinics that perform abortions. In addition, the bill would require physicians who perform the procedure to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles (Krehbiel, Tulsa World, 4/2).

The state House Public Health Committee passed the bill in a 7-4 vote, sending it to the full state House for consideration (AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/1).

The measure passed despite opposition from the Oklahoma State Medical Association. State Rep. Jeannie McDaniel (D) read a letter to the committee members from the association that objected to the bill's requirement that the health board regulate the medical profession, which it currently does not do.

Restrictions on Emergency Contraceptives

The committee also passed a bill (SB 1219) that would prohibit individuals younger than age 17 from purchasing EC without a prescription (Tulsa World, 4/2).

The bill is similar to one the state Legislature passed last year (HB 2226) (Talley, AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/1). A state judge earlier this year struck down that law, which also contained provisions about health insurance, because it violated the state's single-subject rule.

Under federal rules, EC can be sold over-the-counter without age restrictions (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/7).

The committee passed the bill in a 7-3 vote, sending it to the full state House for consideration (Talley, AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/1).

State Rep. David Derby (R), the bill's sponsor in the state House, said it is needed because teenagers "may not be capable of handling this medication or its aftereffects." He added, "We need to have an adult involved in the decision."

However, state Rep. Doug Cox (R) argued that the bill has little to do with safety or side effects. Instead, he said the bill "takes the ability to control their destiny away from women" (Tulsa World, 4/2). He added that the measure could lead to more unintended pregnancies, which could lead to more abortions (Talley, AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/1).