On Friday afternoon, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed a bill that would have made performing most abortions a felony in the state. On Thursday, the Oklahoma Senate passed the bill 33-12, with no floor debate. During the voting process, Sen. Ervin Yen, the sole state senator who is a physician, called the measure “insane.”
As Mother Jones reported in April, the bill would make performing abortions, except for those intended to save a woman’s life, a felony punishable by a minimum of one year in prison.
If it is discovered that they have provided an abortion, doctors would be stripped of their state medical licenses. The only exception to these rules would be abortions to save the life of the mother, and the bill makes clear that the threat of suicide by a woman seeking an abortion doesn’t fulfill the “life” requirement.
Had the bill been signed into law by Gov. Fallin, it would most certainly have led to a protracted and costly legal battle over the bill’s constitutionality, since its near total ban on abortion goes against Roe v. Wade—the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. However, the prospect of litigation is not what Fallin took issue with when rejecting the bill. Instead, she said that the “life” exception provided in the bill was “vague.”
“The bill is so ambiguous and so vague that doctors cannot be certain what medical circumstances would be considered ‘necessary to preserve the life of the mother,'” Fallin said. “While I consistently have and continue to support a re-examination of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, this legislation cannot accomplish that re-examination. In fact, the most direct path to a re-examination of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade is the appointment of a conservative, pro-life justice to the United States Supreme Court.”