Bill to criminalize abortion will not be heard, committee leader says

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A bill seeking to criminalize abortion in Oklahoma will not be brought up for a committee vote, a Senate committee leader confirmed to News 4.

Senate Bill 13, authored by Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow would reclassify abortion as murder. It was assigned to the Oklahoma Senate Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud.

Sen. Smalley described the bill, as written, as "extremely unconstitutional".

"I’m extremely pro-life. I support the efforts. I support the cause, and I do support the author. I just do not support this kind of method," Smalley told News 4 on Saturday. "We have other bills. There’s a Personhood Bill. We could look at the Heartbeat Bill. I mean, there’s other pro-life movement bills that we could tank up and discuss and continue that movement towards I think what we all want, but this is not the method nor the bill to do that."

Speaking with News 4 over the phone Saturday, Sen. Silk challenged criticism of his bill.

"They just don’t like it, because it’s kind of out of the norm and they just don’t know what to do with it." Silk said.

He said he's sought advice from law firms across the country.

"Some people think it will hold up in court but even if there’s a negative outcome in court, we’re reserving the executive branch the authority to nullify a negative court opinion on it," he said. "If politics were operating like they should on a moral and ethical constitutional basis, we would hear Senate Bill 13. It would probably pass committee."

The bill is also assigned to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which Smalley said could be challenging to pass.

"I believe for us not hearing it this week, it will more than likely be a dead bill," he said.

Earlier this week, Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City released the following statement on Senate Bill 13:

“I had several opportunities to visit with individuals about Senate Bill 13 and the goal of ending abortion in Oklahoma. I share the goal of ending abortion, however I am concerned about flaws in their strategy. Missteps not only jeopardize existing hard-fought protections in law but potentially lead to an increased loss of innocent life through abortions.”

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