State Senate Committee Passes Bill to Ban Abortion Once Heartbeat Can Be Detected

Feb 17, 2020

Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

An Oklahoma Senate committee advanced a bill Monday to effectively ban abortion at six weeks.

Senate Bill 1859 would require doctors to check for a heartbeat and brain waves if a woman is at least six weeks pregnant. If either is detected, the procedure could not be done.

Sen. Allison Ikley-Freeman pressed SB1859 author Sen. Paul Scott about his admission the test to check for brain activity, an electroencephalogram, can’t be done on an embryo or fetus without killing it.

"So, you’re requiring a test because this test — the EEG — you feel is what makes this constitutionally different, but you’re also stating that this test is actually impossible to do within the time frame that you are telling them to do it without killing the child?" Ikley-Freeman said.

"That is something that I’m going to be working on as I move this forward," Scott said.

Scott declined to lay the bill over so the problem could be addressed.

Doctors who still performed an abortion after a heartbeat or brain waves were detected would have their licenses revoked. Republican Sen. Joseph Silk is pushing for a total ban on abortion in Oklahoma and said that’s not enough.

"To kill an innocent child, is it an adequate punishment just to revoke a medical license? And is that consistent with other law?" Silk said.

During the committee hearing, some SB1859  supporters compared their fight to outlaw abortion to efforts to abolish slavery. Sen. George Young, who is black, said as a pastor of 30 years, he struggles with the issue of abortion.

"But I don’t struggle with the fact that when someone tries to compare the struggle that individuals are having to share their views on abortion and you inject the horrible, deplorable institution of slavery it makes the whole conversation go in a direction that many of us cannot join in," Young said.

SB1859 passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee 7–4, with all Democrats and Silk opposed.