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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Oklahoma: Close to Outlawing Abortion

The name Oklahoma used to mean the classic Rogers and Hammerstein musical about the legendary ranchers and farmers – the men and women who created the state with their back – breaking work and optimistic spirit. The show began with Curly singing “Oh, what a beautiful morning . . .”

That sunny, expansive vision crashed with a thud for millions of people in Oklahoma on April 27 when the legislature overrode the governor’s vetoes of two abortion measures – the most restrictive and onerous in the nation. Both laws had been passed before, in 2008, as part of an omnibus bill along with several other anti-abortion measures. But the state courts struck them down on a technicality, violation of a clause in the Oklahoma Constitution requiring bills to deal with a single subject. This time, the Republican majorities in both houses of the legislature avoided that pitfall and broke the omnibus bill into separate measures. Governor Brad Henry, a Democrat, did sign two into law: one requires clinics to post signs stating that a woman cannot be forced to have an abortion; the other makes it illegal to choose to have an abortion because of the sex of a child.

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