OKLAHOMA CITY - A bill filed by Oklahoma's highest ranking Senate Republican regarding abortion has passed a Senate committee.
Senate Bill 195, filed by Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, would make abortion illegal in the state if Roe v. Wade is overturned or if the U.S. Constitution is amended. It passed the Oklahoma Senate's Health and Human Services committee Monday by a vote of 11 to 4.
A statute from 1910 made abortion a felony in Oklahoma, punishable by two to five years in prison. It, however, has been rendered ineffective due to the federal court decision.
Treat said if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the 1910 statute would conflict with current regulations on abortion in Oklahoma, which is why he said his bill is necessary.
"This bill has a unique effective clause that allows the Attorney General to certify, when the central holding of Roe and Planned Parenthood vs. Casey gets substantially overturned, the Attorney General will certify that thereby triggering this bill to be effective then," Treat said.
Anti-abortion advocates, who said they are different from those who are "pro-life," insist Senate Bill 195 doesn't go far enough. Instead, they are pushing for Senate Bill 13 authored by Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow, which would abolish abortion.
"It doesn't do anything. It brings zero justice to murdered children. Zero," Silk said, debating against Senate Bill 195 on Monday.
Senate leaders say Senate Bill 13 will not heard this session.
"There will be an immediate injunction," Treat said during the committee hearing. "I know this, because I've run so much pro-life legislation. It gets challenged every time."
The bill, which now heads to the full Senate, includes an exemption considering the life of the mother.
Tamya Cox-Toure with Planned Parenthood Great Plains said there are many concerns with Senate Bill 195 as it relates to women's health.
"We know that this is a long line of anti abortion bills in Oklahoma that’s had severe impact on abortion care in this state," Cox-Toure said. "Roe became law specifically not because it created abortion, Roe became law of the land because it created safe abortions and that’s what important. Abortion is healthcare and, most importantly, we need to make sure it’s safe and legal."
In response, Treat said "I don’t put a lot of weight behind that argument. I understand it. Women’s health is extremely important, and that’s the reason you’ll see in Senate Bill 195 the life of the mother that is currently in state statute in Title 21. Life of the mother is still a reason you could have an abortion under Senate Bill 195. There are legitimate times that it’s medically necessary, but those are very rare incidences."
If the bill becomes law, Oklahoma would become the sixth state with a "trigger" abortion ban.