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Oklahoma House panel approves anti-abortion measures

A committee member fears the push for additional restrictions will drive abortions to back alleys.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: February 13, 2013
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A legislative committee approved measures Tuesday making it harder for young women to receive an abortion without notifying a parent and expanding the state's abortion reporting law.

Rep. Doug Cox, a member of the House of Representatives Public Health Committee, warned those supporting the measure and other anti-abortion proposals to back off pushing for more restrictions or they will drive abortions underground.

“We keep passing stuff like this, they'll be done in back alleys with coat hangers, people,” said Cox, R-Grove, an emergency room physician.

Committee members voted 7-3 to approve House Bill 1588, which would eliminate a provision in state law that allows young women to obtain a judge's approval to get an abortion. The measure would eliminate that judicial bypass procedure. Victims of sexual or physical abuse by a parent are exempt from having to receive parental notification before an abortion.

The measure now goes to the full House.

Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, opposed the bill, saying of the about 6,000 abortions performed annually in Oklahoma, only about 17 percent involve women younger than 18.

“My concern on this is we want people to get help,” she said, saying she knows a 28-year-old woman who is carrying her second child conceived by her father. “I believe they have the right to the best care possible.”

Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, said he supported the measure, authored by Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, D-Oklahoma City, because he didn't want the judicial bypass procedure to be abused. Ritze, a physician, said in Minnesota there were 3,573 judicial petitions from women to bypass parents during a period of four and a half years; only nine were denied.

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