Anti-abortion bill fails to pass out of Republican-led committee

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OKLAHOMA CITY - In an unprecedented move, three freshmen Republicans voted with a Democrat to shoot down an anti-abortion bill.

House Bill 1549 would ban abortions due to genetic abnormalities or Down Syndrome.

It failed to pass out of the Public Health Committee on Wednesday after a 4-4 tie.

Freshman Republican representative, Carol Bush, voted against it.

"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," said Rep. Bush.

She says she's tired of seeing bills proposed that won't stand up in court.

"As a new freshman legislator, I don't know why they keep coming up. I mean even last year, the governor vetoed one that passed," said Rep. Bush.

"The Republican Party is very much in the forefront of the pro-life platform," said Rep. Mike Ritze.

Ritze, a Republican, is the chairman of the Public Health Committee.

He says they shouldn't be concerned with whether a bill is constitutional.

"That's not really for a legislator to decide. That's for the courts to decide," said Rep. 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.

Rep. Bennett says this freshman class of legislators is focused on bigger issues.

"The one thing that we've heard from all corners of the state is what are you going to do about the budget? And what are you going to do about the schools? And that bill didn't do anything for either of those issues," said Rep. Bennett.

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

Rep. Mark Lawson is another freshman Republican that voted against the bill.

He says he simply had more questions he needed answered.

He has been working with the author of the bill to change some of the language and is now a co-author of the bill.

He believes when they present the amended bill to the committee next week that it will pass.

Rep. Lawson also says he believes the new version would stand up to a legal challenge.

The committee will likely vote again next Tuesday.

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