The Oklahoma Senate on Thursday sent Gov. Mary Fallin a bill that would make it a felony to perform abortions in Oklahoma, despite a federal court case legalizing it. Senate Bill 1552, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, would also allow the revocation of medical licenses for physicians who perform abortions. The measure passed by a vote of 33-12 with no debate.
Republican policymakers in Oklahoma are aware of the fact that they cannot simply ban all abortions. The Supreme Court has already considered flat prohibitions and deemed them unconstitutional.
Oklahoma's GOP-led legislature has nevertheless concluded that it can ban doctors from performing abortions. Tulsa World reported today:
The article added that there's one physician in the state Senate, Republican Ervin Yen, who characterized the legislation as an "insane" measure that would inevitably face a court challenge.
Of course, it will first have to be signed into law by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), who recently received some good advice from the editorial board of the New York Times: "For years, anti-abortion forces have relied on onerous regulations on providers to limit abortion services and lied about their true purpose because they know that a vast majority of Americans support a woman's right to choose and that the Supreme Court has affirmed that right for more than four decades. Governor Fallin would save everyone the time and expense of litigation by vetoing the bill."
Keep in mind, by approving a policy that's obviously unconstitutional, and which is certain to fail in the courts, state lawmakers are asking Oklahoma taxpayers to foot the bill for a political exercise that will serve no practical or policy purpose.
But just below the surface, there's another nagging question: don't policymakers in Oklahoma have real work to do? Why invest time and resources in a culture-war bill that will inevitably be struck down?
During a debate in the state House over the anti-abortion proposal, state Rep. David Brumbaugh (R) told his colleagues, "Everybody talks about [Oklahoma's] $1.3 billion deficit. If we take care of the morality, God will take care of the economy."
This, evidently, was the prevailing attitude, which is why Oklahoma will soon have an unconstitutional ban on doctors performing a legal medical procedure, but won't have a balanced budget.