Okla. Senate Passes Fetal Heartbeat Bill; House Expected to Follow Suit

The Oklahoma State Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would require abortion providers to offer their patients a chance to hear the fetal heartbeat, but the final legislation is far from what either side of the debate originally argued for. 

The "heartbeat bill" passed the Republican-controlled Senate by a vote of 34-8.

In the original version of Oklahoma's SB 1274, the woman receiving the abortion would have been required to listen to the fetal heartbeat before the procedure could be completed.

Before the bill was passed, however, Sen. Dan Newberry proposed an amendment that only required doctors to inform the patient that they had the right to listen to the fetal heartbeat.

Opponents of the bill tried to derail the legislation with another amendment, aimed at banning vasectomies in the state.

According to the rejected amendment, which was written by Sen. Constance Johnson, "It is the purpose of the Legislature to assert an invasive state interest in the reproductive habits of men in this state and substitute the will of the government over the will of adult men."

Newberry, the bill's original sponsor, still believes that the bill is crucial to establishing "a culture of life" in Oklahoma.

"A heartbeat is life," Newberry said. "Without a heartbeat, you cannot live. A child is alive in the womb of a mother. It cannot voice any opposition to its death. It can't say, 'Excuse me, I would like not to be killed.' It can't say anything at all."

Opponents of the bill, however, contend that the legislation is too restrictive on the rights of women.

"If they chose to have an abortion, it is not for you to decide, not for you to throw your moral values on someone else," said Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre. "These are, again, adults."

The heartbeat bill will now go to the House, where Republicans outnumber Democrats by a 2-to-1 margin and the legislation is expected to pass.