An attempt will be made to override the governor’s vetoes of two anti-abortion measures, including one that would have required women to hear a description of an ultrasound examination before an abortion could be performed, House Speaker Chris Benge said Friday.
Gov. Brad Henry on Friday vetoed House Bill 2780, the ultrasound measure, and House Bill 2656, which would have banned lawsuits that claim a baby was better off aborted. HB 2780 was included in a measure that Henry vetoed in 2008. Legislators overrode that veto — the first and only time that’s occurred since the Democratic governor took office in 2003. It will require more lawmakers to override this year’s vetoes. A two-thirds majority was needed in each chamber to override the 2008 veto. Because both HB 2780 and HB 2656 contained clauses that would have made them take effect immediately upon the governor’s signature, it will take a three-fourths majority in each chamber to override either veto. In the House, that means 76 votes in the 101-member chamber, while 36 votes are needed in the 48-member Senate. Both measures won at least 90 percent approval in the House. HB 2780 passed 87-7, and HB 2656 passed 94-4. In the Senate, both measures passed 35-11. HB 2780 is similar to a measure that was part of a bill that won legislative approval in 2008. The state Supreme Court last month upheld an Oklahoma County judge’s decision that it violated a requirement in the Oklahoma Constitution that legislation deal with a single subject. Lawmakers responded this session by filing individual bills. Henry said HB 2780 had numerous flaws and would ultimately result in another expensive and possibly futile legal battle for the state. The bill was an unconstitutional attempt "to insert government into the private lives and decisions of its citizens,” Henry said. "State policymakers should never mandate that a citizen be forced to undergo any medical procedure against his or her will, especially when such a procedure could cause physical or mental trauma.” The governor said he also was concerned the measure lacked an exemption for rape and incest victims. "By forcing the victims of such horrific acts to undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the procedure after they have faced the unspeakable trauma of rape or incest, the state victimizes the victim for a second time,” Henry said. "It would be unconscionable to subject rape and incest victims to such treatment.” Benge, R-Tulsa, said he was disappointed with the Democratic governor’s vetoes of the Republican-backed bills. "We will not give up our efforts to protect the unborn and will make an attempt to override these vetoes,” he said. "This issue is not about Democrats and Republicans or left versus right — it’s about doing what’s right, which is why these bills have received strong bipartisan support.” Tony Lauinger, state chairman of Oklahomans for Life, said he hopes legislators attempt to override both vetoes. "We are very disappointed that the governor vetoed this life-affirming legislation,” Lauinger said. "The ultrasound bill would provide important information to a woman that would allow her to give truly informed consent prior to an abortion.” Lauinger disagreed with the governor that the measure should have exempted rape and incest victims. "It is just as important for a woman who may be pregnant as a result of rape or incest to have the benefit of full and complete information in advance of undertaking the irrevocable and lethal act of taking the life of her child as it would be for any other woman,” he said Because both measures were House bills, a veto override attempt would have to start in the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a 63-39 advantage.
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