Supermajorities in both houses of the Oklahoma legislature have voted to override the governor’s vetoes of two measures restricting abortion. One law requires a woman to undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of her unborn child before obtaining an abortion, while another would protect physicians from “wrongful birth” lawsuits.
The veto override for the first bill passed 81-14 and the override for the second passed 84-12 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The Senate overrode the vetoes in two separate 36-12 votes, The Oklahoman reports.
Each of the bills first passed the state Senate one vote short of the three-quarters majority needed to override a veto.
Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, said the ultrasound legislation was flawed because it did not exempt victims of rape and incest, the Associated Press says. He also said the laws would likely be overturned by the courts as unconstitutional.
Rep. Dan Sullivan, the author of the “wrongful birth” legislation, said his measure prevents a doctor from being sued based on the opinion that a child would have been better off if he or she had been aborted, The Oklahoman says.
Sen. Anthony Sykes (R-Moore) defended the law requiring an ultrasound, saying the procedure is often done prior to an abortion to determine an unborn child’s size and weight.
“And it's done again after the murder of that child to make sure they didn't leave any of it in the womb," Sykes noted.
House Speaker Chris Benge (R-Tulsa) also defended the legislation.
"We must move to stop the degradation of human life seen in recent years and stand up for those who cannot defend themselves," he said, according to the Associated Press.
The pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) claimed that the measures were among the strictest in the U.S.
Keri Parks, director of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of Oklahoma City, urged the Senate to uphold the vetoes.
Prior to the votes to override the veto, an Oklahomans for Life legislative alert noted that the ten Democrats who voted for the pro-life bills were being subjected to “intense pro-abortion pressure” to switch their position. The pro-life group asked Oklahomans to thank the senators for their support.
Similar pro-life legislation had been vetoed and overridden in 2008, but an Oklahoma County judge struck down the bill on the grounds that it unconstitutionally contained multiple subjects, the Associated Press reports.
Other Oklahoma pro-life laws signed by Gov. Henry include laws requiring clinics to post signs stating a woman cannot be forced to have an abortion and legislation outlawing abortion based on an unborn child’s sex.