Oklahoma lawmaker files bill to outlaw abortion

Warren Hamilton

An Oklahoma lawmaker has filed a bill that would classify abortion as "homicide" in an effort to end all abortions in the state. It also would create criminal penalties for those who participate in an abortion.

District 7 State Sen. Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain, filed Senate Bill 495, and said in a statement: “Every child is a gift from God, no matter their conception story. We do not need the permission of the Supreme Court to stop murdering our children. We can and should start right here in Oklahoma by establishing equal protection and equal justice for all human beings beginning at conception."

Multiple calls to Hamilton were not returned this week.

The Oklahoma legislative session begins Monday.

Oklahoma is one of 19 states that bans abortions after 20 weeks and had six facilities providing abortion services in 2017, according to the latest update provided by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group formerly associated with Planned Parenthood, which provides reproductive health care including abortion.

Julie Burkhart, founder and CEO of Trust Women, which runs an abortion clinic in Oklahoma City, was critical of the legislation.

She said families have abortions for myriad reasons — financial, emotional, maternal health, fetal abnormalities, and more.

“Instead of trying to ban abortion, I’d rather all of us work together to expand access to contraceptive care, to expand access to prenatal care to women who are wanting to continue their pregnancies, and to eradicate infant mortalities,” Burkhart said.

Hamilton's bill is supported by some Oklahoma churches and organizations including Southern Baptists for the Abolition of Abortion; Oklahomans United for Life, Free the States, The Ekklesia of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows 11.3 abortions per 1,000 women nationwide between 15-44 in 2018, a slight increase from 11.2 the previous year. CDC data also shows the nation’s total number of abortions declined 22% since 2009.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 and companion decisions legalized abortion with states allowing varying restrictions.

Attempts to talk to legal scholars about the constitutionality of the bill were unsuccessful.

Alabama passed a near-total ban on abortion in a law that was blocked by a federal judge in 2019.

“Alabama’s abortion ban contravenes clear Supreme Court precedent,” U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson wrote in an opinion. “It violates the right of an individual to privacy, to make choices central to personal dignity and autonomy. It diminishes the capacity of women to act in society, and to make reproductive decisions. It defies the United States Constitution.”

A number of states attempted to ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The Alabama law went further by attempting to ban almost all abortions with no exceptions for cases of rape and incest.

State lawmakers have introduced various bills to further restrict abortion, including former state senator Joseph Silk’s abolition bill, Senate Bill 13, that many called unconstitutional before it stalled last year. The bill and the vote on SB 13 led to a confrontation in the Republican primary race for the District 7 senate seat between Hamilton and then-incumbent Larry Boggs.

Hamilton’s bill also aims to rescind licenses of doctors who perform an abortion in Oklahoma.

The bill directs the attorney general to direct state agencies in monitoring and enforcing the law “regardless of any contrary or conflicting federal statute, regulation, treaty, executive order or ruling.”

Hamilton ran as an abortion abolitionist in his campaign to win election as a freshman legislator and a four-year term to represent District 7, which covers Pittsburg, Latimer and Haskell counties, and portions of Hughes and Okfuskee counties.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com

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