The legislation includes a provision similar to one
put in place in neighboring Texas that requires physicians who
perform abortions to have admitting privileges at an appropriately
equipped hospital within 30 miles of their practice.
The Republican lawmaker who wrote the legislation, Mike Ritze, a
physician, said his goal was to ensure women who experience
complications like hemorrhaging, can have access to hospital care
"If the federal law is going to allow abortions, the state has a
responsibility to our citizens to ensure those procedures are done
as safely as possible," Ritze said.
Opponents argue that, given the sparse population in most of
Oklahoma, the admitting privileges requirement places an unjust
burden on clinics and punishes people in rural parts of the state
where medical care can be scarce.
"The intent of this legislation is to restrict access to safe, legal
abortions, plain and simple," said Jill June, president and chief
executive of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.
The admitting privileges provision, almost identical to the one in
Texas, was opposed by the Texas Hospital Association, which said it
was unnecessary because women experiencing abortion complications
can go to a hospital emergency room and be treated.
Admitting privileges allow doctors to admit patients to a hospital
for treatment. The privileges are usually given to doctors who are
on staff at the hospital.
[to top of second column]
Jerry McPeak, a Democrat from Muskogee, said he voted against the
measure because it would limit healthcare options for women in rural
areas, like his district.
"Women in my district have the same right as everyone else to
healthcare options. This bill wasn't about abortion. It's purely
politics," McPeak said.
The House voted 73-9 in favor of the bill.
An Oklahoma Senate panel voted 19-2 on Wednesday to approve a
similar bill to the one passed by the House and will likely approve
the measure when it goes to a full vote.
Federal courts have so far upheld the Texas law but opponents have
filed appeals seeking to ease some of its restrictions.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by
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