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Oklahoma lawmaker proposes bill to ban abortions once fetal heartbeat is audible

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A photo of an ultrasound

OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma lawmaker wants to restrict abortions after a heartbeat is detected.

Sen. Paul Scott filed Senate Bill 710, which would prohibit abortions if the embryonic or fetal heartbeat is audible.

Under the bill, it states that “no physician shall perform an abortion if the physician determines the embryonic or fetal heartbeat is audible.”

“I am pro-life and believe in the sanctity of life. I don’t believe in abortions but since we can’t go against the federal government, we must do all we can within our constitutional rights. As a state, we can provide a clear, scientific definition that life begins with the first heartbeat,” Scott said.

Scott says that during the fifth week of pregnancy, a baby’s heart, brain, spinal cord and organs begin to form.

“Our abortion laws are outdated and based on old technology and science. Roe v. Wade was settled 43 years ago. Now doctors have the tools and knowledge to not only sustain life several weeks earlier than was possible back then but now they can even create life in the lab,” Scott said. “Instead of offering to let the mother hear her baby’s heartbeat before she terminates its life as is current law, we need to fight for that baby and acknowledge that it is in fact a human being with the right to live.”

Critics of similar bills say the limited time frame would ban abortion before some women even know they are pregnant.

The bill is similar to one that was recently vetoed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich. That bill, which would have been the nation’s strictest time-based legislation, banned abortions around six weeks.

While explaining his reason to veto the measure, Kasich said that he wanted to avoid costly litigation that would likely end in defeat. Similar bills were passed in Arkansas and North Dakota, but were ultimately deemed unconstitutional in federal court.

“As governor I have worked hard to strengthen Ohio’s protections for the sanctity of human life and I have a deep respect for my fellow members of the pro-life community and their ongoing efforts in defense of unborn life. Certain provisions that were amended into Am. Sub HB 493, however, are clearly contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States’ current rulings on abortion.

Similar legislation enacted in two other states has twice been declared unconstitutional by federal judges, and the Supreme Court declined to review those decisions. Because the federal courts are bound to follow the Supreme Court’s rulings on abortion, the amendment to Am. Sub. HB 493 will be struck down. The State of Ohio will be the losing party in that lawsuit and , as the losing party, the State of Ohio will be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to cover the legal fees for the pro-choice activists’ lawyers. Furthermore, such a defeat invites additional challenges to Ohio’s strong legal protections for unborn life. Therefore, this veto is in the public interest,” Kasich wrote in his December veto.

Oklahoma’s legislative session will begin on Monday, Feb. 6.