Bill would require man’s permission for abortion

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A bill introduced at the state capitol would require the father of a fetus to sign off on an abortion.

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.

The Public Health Committee tabled the bill Wednesday morning — the same day Oklahomans went to the capitol from across the state to participate in the 26th Annual Rose Day Pro-Life Rally.

“I believe in the sanctity of human life, and therefore I believe strongly that our state needs to have strong pro-life legislation,” said Karen Alley, who supports the permission legislation. “I believe that life begins at conception, which means to me that you become a mother at conception and therefore you become a father at conception. The fact that our young men and our young fathers don't have a say in that choice is sad to me. It's taking the rights of the father away.”

Others, like James Bible, feel, since a father is half of what makes a baby, he should have half the responsibility.

But, Planned Parenthood Great Plains calls the bill unconstitutional, “extreme” and “irresponsible.”

“Women have the right to a safe abortion,” said Tamya Cox, Regional Director of Public Policy and Organizing. “Women have a right to bodily autonomy. If legislators truly want to end abortion, truly want to decrease the number of abortions and why women are terminating pregnancies, then we believe they should work with us on creating better access to education.”

Instead, Cox said the bill opens the door to harmful consequences — mostly by oversimplifying the circumstances under which a woman may seek an abortion.

“It does not take into consideration that women may be in an abusive relationship and cannot seek permission from a partner because she could be in danger,” she said. “That’s why Oklahoma should trust women to make the choices that are best for them.”

Planned Parenthood argues the statute would be clearly unconstitutional and would cost Oklahoma taxpayers to cover legal expenses.

Public Health Committee Chairman Mike Ritze (R-Broken Arrow) told NewsChannel 4 the bill has a fiscal impact which had not been outlined.

The committee tabled the bill Wednesday, but Ritze said he expects the bill to be back on the agenda at next week's meeting.