Henry refuses to sign anti-abortion bill; becomes law without his signature

By The Associated Press Modified: May 23, 2007 at 7:45 pm •  Published: May 23, 2007
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OKLAHOMA CITY - Gov. Brad Henry said Wednesday he would not sign anti-abortion legislation similar to a measure he vetoed last month but would allow it to become law without his signature.

"This bill addresses several of the issues that led me to veto an earlier measure," Henry said. "Unlike its predecessor, Senate Bill 139 provides exemptions for cases of rape and incest, and it includes language that allows for a physician to discuss options with his or her patient."

The measure bars state funds and resources from being used to perform abortions in the state. Some physicians claimed it would effectively prevent uninsured and underinsured women with troubled pregnancies from receiving medically qualified abortions.

Under the Oklahoma Constitution, a bill approved by the Legislature automatically becomes law after five days if the governor declines to take action on it.

Henry said the latest anti-abortion measure had not fixed all of the problems in the previous bill.

"Specifically, it still fails to provide exemptions for instances in which a lethal birth defect means there is no possibility of a fetus' survival," the governor said. "A woman should not be forced to carry a fetus to full term when there is no possibility that the fetus can survive outside the womb.

Henry urged supporters of the bill to work with the medical community and others to address the lethal birth defect issue in the next legislative session.

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