A measure that would require an abortion provider to offer a woman the opportunity to hear the fetus's heartbeat before ending the pregnancy is on its way to the governor.
The House of Representatives voted 75-12 Thursday to pass Senate Bill 1274. Backers said it would empower women by giving them additional information before deciding to go through with the procedure. Opponents said SB 1274 is unnecessary because existing state law requires a woman to listen to the child's heartbeat as part of its abortion informed consent statutes.
Rep. Doug Cox, who considers himself an anti-abortion lawmaker, told House members that measures such as SB 1274 are getting into gray areas that could result in unintended consequences. SB 1433 would allow a spouse, sibling, guardian or another doctor who wasn't there with the woman to file a lawsuit against an abortion provider if the woman wasn't offered the opportunity to listen to her child's heartbeat, he said.
“We continue to have these bills out here that have unintended consequences like this liability issue, and I find myself being against these pro-life bills,” said Cox, R-Grove. “You're about to drive me to the other side.
“This is a terrible law. We've got a lot better stuff than this to discourage abortions,” he said.
“Have we beat a dead horse out here or what on this abortion issue? We have beat a dead horse,” said Cox, who tore up a copy of the bill when he finished debating against the measure.
Measure adds option
Rep. Pam Peterson, the House author of SB 1274, said the measure would apply to situations where the unborn baby is eight weeks or older, and the woman would have the choice on whether to hear the heartbeat during a standard pre-procedure exam. The bill's provisions do not apply when the mother's life is in danger.
“Thanks to advances in modern medicine, we've gone from the days when people claimed a baby was ‘just a clump of cells' to being able to see the truly astounding process of development in the womb,” said Peterson, R-Tulsa. “This legislation simply ensures that a woman is given the opportunity to assess that information. Our laws should not be stuck in the 1950s when it comes to medical issues.”
Peterson said it is important to ensure informed-consent rights.
“There's a much greater array of medical data now available to women, and we should not allow them to be denied access to that knowledge,” she said.
Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, said SB 1274 is redundant with existing state laws. She said state law already provides that no abortion shall be performed unless an ultrasound image and heart tone monitoring are provided to allow the pregnant woman to view her unborn child or listen to the heartbeat of the unborn child.
“What I resent here today is we're having a discussion about something that's already the law,” she said.
Peterson said SB 1274 simply gives a woman the opportunity to hear the heartbeat of her unborn child through the use of a fetal heart monitor.
“A pregnant woman who enters an abortion clinic is faced with a decision that will forever change two lives,” she said. “It is for that reason the woman needs to be fully informed.”
More than 50 million abortions have been performed in the United States since the procedure was legalized in 1973, she said.
“If we had all those babies working, paying taxes, that's an economic issue,” Peterson said. “We are suffering the consequences of Roe v. Wade now in the 21st century. We now have more baby boomers, and we have nobody to replace us.”