Additional abortion regulations are among more than 240 new laws that go into effect Friday.
Other new laws boost the cost of a new driver's license, permit certain surveillance cameras and allow some convicted criminals to use DNA testing to challenge their conviction.
On the abortion issue, House Bill 1361 requires parents of a minor seeking an abortion to prove they are the legal guardians before the abortion can be carried out. The law does allow minors to seek a judicial waiver for the requirement but also gives judges authority to require the minors who receive an abortion with such a waiver to seek counseling.
“My intention was to put some common sense accountability and safeguards into the system to avoid abuse and just to really look out for the best interest of the minor,” said Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, the measure's author.
House Bill 1588 prevents any abortion from taking place until at least 48 hours after the written notice is received.
House Bill 2015 adds more than a dozen questions to the Individual Abortion Form, which all physicians must fill out for each abortion performed. The new questions include asking if the pregnant woman was asked if she wanted to hear the heartbeat of the fetus and if she was notified of the sex of the fetus before the abortion.
Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma called the bills anti-choice, saying they would do nothing to prevent unintended pregnancies or reduce the need for abortions in the state of Oklahoma.
“Politicians should focus on solving problems in Oklahoma today,” the group said in a statement. “They should stop wasting time on legislation that interferes in the private health care decisions of families tomorrow.”
Senate Bill 587, by Sen. Ron Justice, R-Chickasha, and Rep. Harold Wright, R-Weatherford allows family members to place surveillance cameras in the rooms of their loved ones in nursing homes.
“Nursing home residents are being raped, physically assaulted, abused, neglected and injured, and nobody on the staff seemed to know how these injuries were happening,” said Wes Bledsoe, president of A Perfect Cause, a victim's rights advocacy group.
“We also need to be sure that they are receiving appropriate care, because often times they're not. Oklahoma ranks among the worst in the nation for worst quality of care for nursing home residents year after year.”
Senate Bill 587 requires the individual families to pay for and maintain the cameras.
Dusty Darr, associate state director for advocacy for the American Association of Retired Persons of Oklahoma, said that close to 70 percent of nursing home residents share a room, and the bill allows homes to make housing adjustments for patients who do not wish to share a room with a resident who has a camera in place.
Another new law ends Oklahoma's status of being the only state without a post-conviction DNA testing statute.
House Bill 1068, by Rep. Lee Denny, R-Cushing, and Sen. James Halligan, R-Stillwater, will allow some felons who profess their innocence to request forensic DNA testing of biological material involved in their investigation and prosecution.
Tiffany Murphy, a clinical professor at Oklahoma City University School of Law and the director of the Oklahoma Innocence Project, said she was ecstatic when the bill passed.
“I think that it will be a wonderful opportunity for those with physical evidence that can be evaluated to have their cases heard as soon as possible,” Murphy said.
“I am anticipating that we will be getting more requests than what we have received.”
Other key laws
Senate Bill 652 will raise the fee for driver's licenses. Classes A, B and C licenses will all increase by $10, and a commercial D license, which is the standard license for most Oklahoma drivers, will increase by $12 to $33.50.
One of the more contentious bills last session was House Bill 1999, allowing facilities that slaughter horses to be built in the state. Many animal rights advocates strongly opposed the bill by Rep. Skye McNeil, R-Bristow, and Sen. Eddie Fields, R-Wynona.
While the consumption of horse meat is banned in the U.S., it is allowed in some countries. Some local supporters of the measure said that it gives ranchers more options when trying to find affordable ways to deal with lame or injured horses.