OKLAHOMA CITY - It’s a controversial abortion bill that would only allow an abortion with the consent of the father of the fetus.
House Bill 1441, authored by Republican Rep. Justin Humphrey, would force women seeking abortions to identify the father to the doctor.
If the person identified disputes he is the father, the person may ask for a paternity test, according to the bill.
The legislation grants exceptions for rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger.
Exceptions are also made if the father of the fetus is deceased, provided the woman signs a notarized affidavit attesting to the fact.
Humphrey stood before the House Public Health Committee on Tuesday morning and explained his bill.
“The intent is to try to put the fathers in the process,” Humphrey said. “My bill would stop the abortion if the father does not agree to the abortion.”
Humphrey recently told the Intercept he wrote the bill because he wanted to make sure fathers have a say in the decision, adding women’s bodies are "hosts."
“I believe one of the breakdowns in our society is that we have excluded the man out of all of these types of decisions,” he said. “I understand that they feel like that is their body,” he said of women. “I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant,” he explained. “So that’s where I’m at. I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.”
Humphrey's use of the word 'host' regarding pregnant women sparked outrage among some in the community.
"When I use the term host, it’s not meant to degrade women. I actually went and Googled that. I went to Webster, and I couldn’t find a better term,” Humphrey said.
He said he’s been getting a lot of calls and even threats over this.
“I get a lot of calls saying I’m ignorant and stupid,” Humphrey said.
“Regardless of the inflammatory comments that Representative Humphrey has said, regarding delegating women to only as 'hosts' during pregnancy is offensive to all Oklahoma women,” said Tamya Cox, regional director of Public Policy and Organizing for Planned Parenthood Great Plains. “Courts have said that states cannot create undue burdens and create unnecessary obstacles when it comes to right to access abortion.”
“The thing that I wanted to spark in a debate is that fathers have a role. Exactly where that role is, I’m not sure. This is a very difficult bill. It’s a very trying bill on both sides, very passionate for people on both sides,” Humphrey said.
The bill passed easily out of the Public Health Committee by a vote of 5-2, the only two Democrats on the committee voting against it.
The only woman on the committee, Rep. Carol Bush, was not there.
“We definitely need to increase our female representation at the state legislature. And, we believe, when we increase that female representation, bills like this that are anti-woman and anti-abortion won’t see the light of day,” Cox said.
Humphrey struck the title of the bill, meaning changes can be made.
And, there would be many more issues to hash out like who would foot the bill for DNA testing if the identity of the father is in question.