, Muskogee, OK

February 27, 2014

State House approves abortion provider legislation

Associated Press

— OKLAHOMA CITY  — The Oklahoma House overwhelmingly approved legislation Thursday to require abortion providers to have clinical privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their practice in spite of opponents’ concerns that similar anti-abortion laws in other states have been blocked following costly court challenges.

The House voted 73-9 for the measure, sending it to the Senate. It is one of several anti-abortion measures filed in the 2014 Oklahoma Legislature, including one approved by the House earlier this month that requires abortion providers to notify women whose fetuses have fatal conditions that hospice services are available as an alternative to an abortion.

The author of the hospital privileges bill, Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, said it is designed to protect unborn children as well as women who may develop medical complications during an abortion.

“This bill adds another protection,” said Ritze, an osteopathic physician. Ritze said women can develop serious infections following an abortion procedure.

“I’ve seen some terrible botched abortions,” he said. “You can’t realize how dangerous it is.”

But opponents said the language in the legislation is identical to bills that face constitutional challenges in other states. In a statement issued prior to the vote, Planned Parenthood, which provides reproductive health care services, said similar state laws have been blocked from taking effect by state and federal courts in Alabama, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Mississippi.

Opponents of a bill passed in North Dakota in 2013 claim it would effectively make abortions illegal in the state. They claim it would be impossible for doctors who perform abortions to meet the number of hospital visits required to gain admitting privileges.