Getting It in Writing: Controversial Abortion Bills Pass in Committee

Getting It in Writing: Controversial Abortion Bills Pass in Committee

Oklahoma recently introduced some controversial abortion bills that have drawn public ire.

Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak before a Public Health Committee at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. Humphrey submitted House Bill 1441 requiring permission from the father before a woman gets an abortion. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP)/The Oklahoman via AP)

A bill that would require women to obtain the permission from the father of the fetus in order to receive abortion services passed in the Oklahoma Public Health Committee with a vote of 5-2 on Feb. 14. 

House Bill 1441 was written by Rep. Justin Humphrey from the District 19, representing the Atoka, Bryan, Choctaw and Pushmataha counties. Rep. Humphrey was elected in 2016 for the 56th Oklahoma Legislature, which has been in it’s first regular session since Feb. 6, 2017. 

The bill would require women to disclose the identity of the father to their physician and would require proof, in writing, that the father approves of the abortion procedure.

If the person identified as the father is challenged as being the father, he can demand a paternity test. The bill does exclude women if the father of the fetus is deceased, women whose lives are endangered by the pregnancy and victims of rape and incest. 

Rep. Humphrey claimed that the father should have a say in what happens to the fetus while referring to women as “hosts” of the fetus.

“I believe one of the breakdowns in our society is that we have excluded the man out of all of these types of decisions. I understand that they feel like that it is their body. I feel like it is separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant,” Rep. Humphrey said in an interview with The Intercept on Feb. 14.

The bill has been criticized by reproductive rights groups for being unconstitutional due to past rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court. This type of abortion requirement appeared in the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania V. Casey.  

House Bill 1441 has also been criticized for being a waste of taxpayer money. The bill also fails to offer much clarification for victims of domestic abuse and currently lacks provisions that would require the fathers to help with funding to raise the child. 

“The bills passed today send an alarming message to women that they are incapable of making decisions themselves. That the author of the bill requiring consent referred to women as ‘hosts’ is, quite frankly, unconscionable,” Julie Burkhart, the founder and CEO of Trust Women Foundation said

House Bill 1549 also passed in the House Public Health Committee on Feb. 14, which will make abortions sought due to fetal defects unlawful.

The bill was co-authored by Rep. George Faught from District 14 and Rep. Mark Lawson from District 30.

Both of the bills will continue forward through the committee process until they either die or are reintroduced to the House Floor for approval.


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