OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representative overwhelmingly approved a bill that would revoke the medical license of any doctor who performs an abortion.
House Bill 1182 passed along party lines, 71-21.
Lawmakers spent more than two hours Thursday debating the measure.
State Representative Jim Olsen, R-Roland, authored the bill. He said his goal was to reduce the number of abortions in Oklahoma. Olsen amended the measure to allow doctors to perform abortions if the life of the mother was at stake.
Democrats, led by Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, argued the measure will do little to stop abortions and instead represented an unconstitutional barrier to women seeking an abortion.
Representative Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa, presented research that showed states that have enacted restrictions on abortions saw an increase in the number of procedures performed. However, he argued states that embraced the Affordable Care Act saw a decrease in abortions.
“Between 2011 and 2017 we, as a country, have reduced the number of abortions,” Nichols said. He said increased access to health care, contraceptives and education in a number of states effectively reduced abortions.
“Unless we’re willing to do those things we don’t care about reducing abortions in Oklahoma,” he said.
Republicans disagreed, arguing Democrats have fought efforts to provide economic incentives to adoptive families. Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, said he had previously authored legislation that offered support to those looking for an alternative to abortion. He told lawmakers he supported the measure because he was speaking up for the victims of abortion.
The bill is similar to one championed by Senator Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, which was ultimately vetoed by then Governor Mary Fallin.
House Bill 1182 now heads to the Senate for consideration.