Okla. Legislature Overrides Veto to Restrict Abortions

In what was only the second time in the past 14 years of the state's history, the Oklahoma legislature voted overwhelmingly this week to override a veto by a sitting Governor.

In a measure of strong bipartisan support, the Oklahoma Senate and House voted on Thursday 37-11 and 85-15 within moments of each other to uphold what was described by legislators as a series of "comprehensive" limits designed to reduce the number of abortions throughout the state.

Oklahoma State Gov. Brad Henry had vetoed the bill.

According to the new bill, ultrasounds and access for women seeking information on alternatives to abortion will now become routine procedure.

Studies have shown that a majority of women who receive ultrasounds and access to information concerning alternatives to abortion opt out of the procedure.

The new measure will also bar abortions to all minors without parental notification letters, and allow health care practitioners to refuse participation in abortions if they feel it compromises their beliefs.

The use of harmful drugs during abortion procedures and the practice of so called "wrongful-life" lawsuits, in which physicians can be sued for delivering a baby that "would have been better off aborted," will also be significantly curtailed.

Gov. Henry had opposed the bill, arguing that it did not exempt women who were victims of rape and incest from the new restrictions.

"While I support reasonable restrictions on abortion, this legislation does not provide an essential exemption for victims of rape and incest," he said, according to the Oklahoma-based Tulsa World.

Oklahomans for Life chairman Tony Lauinger, however, described the recent move by the legislature as a major victory for human life everywhere.

"These votes represent an affirmation for the value of each human life and speaks well of our elected officials' commitment to the most vulnerable members of our human family: those waiting to be born," he said, according to the local newspaper.

"We are deeply appreciative of the strong support of the Senate and the House for this important pro-life legislation," he added.

The bill will become law on Nov. 1.