Oklahoma House Passes Bill Banning Abortion for Birth Defects

Mar 21, 2017

Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Oklahoma House sent controversial new abortion restrictions to the Senate Tuesday.

The Oklahoma House approved House Bill 1549, also called the Prenatal Nondiscrimination act of 2017. It bans abortion when the fetus will have Down syndrome or a birth defect.

Bill author George Faught said people are being allowed to play God, which drew fire from Rep. Regina Goodwin.

"At what point did you decide that that's within your ability to decide for all women in Oklahoma?" Goodwin said.

"One of the things that I campaigned on was to protect life, and I believe life begins at conception," Faught said.

The severity of the diagnosed birth defect does not matter. Women would be prohibited from aborting a fetus expected to live even just a few hours after birth, and there is not exception for the life or health of a mother.

House Democrats pressed Faught on why there are no exceptions for cases of rape or incest either, asking whether those are an act of God.

"Well, it's an act of sin. We live in a sinful world. Men and women do horrible things, but God can bring beauty out of ashes," Faught said.

Rep. Cory Williams was among several Democrats telling supporters of HB1549 restricting abortion while slashing aid programs makes them pro-birth, not pro-life.

"There is all of these things that we continually fail to do. You should see the devastation in the eyes of these people who do now know how they're going to keep a roof over their disabled child's head, and they look to us to do something and we turn a blind eye," Williams said.

Opponents also said the measure will inevitably be challenged in court if it is passed into law. When asked about the cost to the state to defend the law in court, Faught said there would be no cost because the attorney general's office represents the state.

The bill initially failed in committee the same day as a pro-life demonstration at the capitol. The bill was reworked, and it passed the House 67—16 Tuesday after almost two hours of debate.