Gov. Brad Henry’s recent veto of the Statistical Abortion Report Act bill was another sensible and prudent move against a backdrop of extremist GOP-sponsored bills that have defined the 2010 legislative session.
House Bill 3284, sponsored by state Rep. Pam Peterson (R-Tulsa), would require women in Oklahoma to fill out a lengthy questionnaire before they receive an abortion. The information would then be published on a web site maintained by the state. The bill’s alleged purpose is to collect research information about abortions, but it’s really just another way to harass and intimidate women seeking the procedure.
According to media reports, Henry’s veto message included this:
By forcing rape and incest victims 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.
Requiring patients to publicly reveal highly intimate and personal details of their lives to obtain a medical procedure protected by this nation’s highest court constitutes an unconstitutional invasion of privacy and barrier to legal medical treatment.
Henry vetoed two other abortion-related bills this session. One bill would require women to have an ultrasound before the procedure and listen to a detailed description of it. The other bill prohibits women from collecting lawsuit damages if a physician withheld crucial information about their fetuses. The GOP-controlled legislature later voted to override Henry’s two vetoes.
Henry has also vetoed other extremist legislation that would allow Oklahoman to openly carry weapons and to allow the state to opt-out of the new federal health care program. The legislature sustained those two vetoes.
In his last year in office, Henry continues to check extremists who are intent on destroying Oklahoma’s image by passing ultra-conservative, freaky legislation that draws scrutiny and criticism from national media outlets.
As I’ve written before, Henry’s actions show how important it is that Oklahomans elect a Democrat as governor this year. If the Republicans leading candidate for governor-U.S. Rep Mary Fallin-gets elected, and the GOP maintains its majorities in the House and Senate, the 2011 legislative session will produce an avalanche of extremist bills that damage the state’s image.