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.
Committee members also voted 7-3 to approve HB 1361, which would allow the judicial bypass procedure to remain. The measure, by Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, would require a pregnant woman under 18 to go only to a judge in the county where she lives.
HB 1361 now goes to the full House.
Committee members also approved HB 2015, which would add more questions to the Individual Abortion Form completed by the abortion provider.
It also would add more reporting measures to the Annual Abortion Report issued by the state Health Department and allow registered voters to initiate legal proceedings against an abortion provider who fails to comply with the reporting requirements.
Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, said the intent of his measure, which now goes to the full House, is to update reporting requirements to reflect laws passed. Oklahoma lawmakers passed the state's statistical abortion reporting law in 2010.
Ritze said many of the abortions in the state were occurring undercover after midnight, but Cox called that “a bunch of horse hockey.”
“These things are done in clinics inspected by the Health Department under sterile, medical conditions,” Cox said. “This bill basically is trying to intimidate the providers who do those.”