Controversial anti-abortion bill passes out of Oklahoma House

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Oklahoma State Capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY – It seems that a controversial bill dealing with abortion and genetic abnormalities has passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

House Bill 1549 would ban abortions due to genetic abnormalities or Down Syndrome. It would also hold physicians who violate this measure liable.

In February, the bill failed to pass out of the Public Health Committee after a 4-4 tie.

In an unprecedented move, three new Republican lawmakers voted against the bill, joining a Democrat.

“It’s an unconstitutional bill. We already have a bill on the books. And it’s not worth our time or our money or energy to pursue these,” Rep. Carol Bush told NewsChannel 4 last month.

At the time, she said that she’s tired of seeing bills proposed that won’t stand up in court.

However, others in her own party say they shouldn’t be concerned about whether or not a bill is constitutional.

“That’s not really for a legislator to decide. That’s for the courts to decide,” said Rep. Mike Ritze.

“In a time when we have a budget shortfall of almost $900 million, how much money are we wasting today in the courts fighting unconstitutional legislation?” said Rep. Forrest Bennett, the Democrat who voted against the bill.

 

“The budget is important but moral issues are very important to the people that elect us,” said Rep. Ritze.

Less than a week later, the same committee approved the bill in a 5-2 vote.

In an about-face, Rep. Lawson and Rep. McEntire voted for the bill. Rep. Bush was absent from the vote.

Rep. Lawson, a freshman Republican who originally voted against the bill, became a co-author and helped change some of the wording of the bill.

Now, the bill has passed the full House of Representatives.

On Tuesday, House Bill 1549 passed with a 67-16 vote. In all, 16 other lawmakers were considered excused from the vote, including Rep. Bush.

“Life is a gift from God,” said Rep. George Faught. “Today, I am thankful that the members of the House of Representatives chose to protect that gift.”

HB 1549 will now be sent to the Oklahoma Senate.

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