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Oklahoma House passes bill to revoke licenses from doctors who perform abortions

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Oklahoma House of Representatives

The Oklahoma House of Representatives chambers on Feb. 5, 2019. The House passed a bill Tuesday allowing doctors who perform abortions to have their medical licenses revoked.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday allowing doctors who perform abortions to have their medical licenses revoked.

House Bill 1182, authored by Rep. Jim Olsen, orders the Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision and the State Board of Osteopathic Examiners to revoke medical licenses for a year if a doctor performs an abortion, according to the release. The bill allows for exceptions if the mother’s life is at risk.

“Every single human life, born and unborn, has value. It’s our obligation as a civilized people to defend and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves,” Olsen said in the release. “I’m glad the House stood together to recognize that the most innocent (of) us also deserve our most basic of rights — the right to life.”

Other Republican representatives praised the bill in the release, including coauthor of the bill and House Speaker Charles McCall, who said the bill reflected the pro-life opinion of “a majority of Oklahomans.”

Rep. Brad Boles, another of the bill’s co-authors, said in the release his personal journey gave him a close connection to the bill. His birth mother decided to put him up for adoption rather than get an abortion.

“Now she had a million reasons why it would have been more convenient for her to choose abortion — economic reasons, future college, athletic reasons — but she chose life,” Boles said. “And due to that decision she made unselfishly, I’m here today.”

Rep. Emily Virgin, the Oklahoma House Minority Leader, said the bill was a poor start to the current legislative session.

“It’s really disappointing that this is the first bill we’ve heard this legislative session,” Virgin said. “I think that sends a message to women in this state that this is something the majority party is prioritizing.”

Virgin said if the bill is passed into state law, it would likely be struck down based on challenges in higher courts, particularly restricted by former Supreme Court decisions like Roe v. Wade, which upheld women’s rights to receive abortions based on personal liberties and state non-interference.

“The long and short of it is that this bill is unconstitutional, and it really is a drain on our time and resources to continue to pursue legislation like this,” Virgin said. “This isn’t something that will do anything to decrease the number of unintended pregnancies or abortions."

Increased access to contraceptives and “scientific, fact-based” sex education in public schools, Virgin said, are far more effective ways to decrease unintended pregnancies than abortion bans. She said proponents of the ban should look into the facts on these options rather than continue engaging in “emotional rhetoric.”

The bill now moves to the state senate. Should it pass, Gov. Kevin Stitt previously indicated he would sign any anti-abortion legislation he receives, according to the Associated Press.

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