Fetal heartbeat bill heads to governor after passage by Oklahoma House

A bill passed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives would give pregnant women the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat before an abortion. The measure now goes to the governor.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: April 20, 2012
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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.