Oklahoma legislature overrides veto of pre-abortion questionnaire bill

[JURIST] The Oklahoma Senate [official website] voted 33-15 [roll call, PDF] Tuesday to override the veto of bill [HB 3284 text, RTF] that would require women seeking an abortion [JURIST news archive] to complete a questionnaire. The vote comes a day after the Oklahoma House of Representatives [official website] voted 84-13 to override the veto, allowing the proposed legislation to take effect November 1. The Statistical Abortion Report Act would require women to answer questions such as marital status, reasons for seeking the abortion, and whether the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. It would also require doctors performing the procedure to fill out a questionnaire about complications resulting from it. The bill was vetoed [press release] by Governor Brad Henry (D) [official website] on Monday, because of its "personally invasive" nature:

While I support reasonable restrictions on abortion, this legislation has numerous flaws. As with previous abortion bills I have vetoed, HB 3284 lacks an essential exemption for rape and incest victims. By forcing them to submit to a personally invasive questionnaire and posting the answers on a state website, this legislation will only increase the trauma of an already traumatic event. Victims of such horrific acts should be treated with dignity and respect in such situations, as should all people.
Paul Sund, a spokesman for Henry, criticized [Tulsa World report] the Senate's override because of the cost of litigating legal challenges that may arise from the bill. Supporters have said the measure is necessary to protect unborn children.

Two weeks ago, the Oklahoma Senate voted 32-11 [JURIST report] to pass the bill. Identical legislation was signed into law last session but was struck down [JURIST report] because it was part of a broader bill that violated the state constitution's single subject requirement. Earlier this month, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson [official profile] agreed to delay the implementation of another controversial new state law [HB 2780 text, RTF] requiring women seeking an abortion to consent first to an ultrasound after the Center for Reproductive Rights [advocacy website] requested a restraining order temporarily barring enforcement of the law. In April, the Oklahoma Senate voted to override [JURIST report] Henry's veto of two anti-abortion bills, including the ultrasound bill. The Oklahoma laws join another restrictive abortion law passed recently in Nebraska, which bans abortions after 20 weeks [JURIST report].

 

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