Sally Show Begins
State Rep. Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City) will try to restrict reproductive rights even further for Oklahoma women this coming legislative session.
House Bill 1004, filed by Kern, would require doctors who perform abortions to have clinical privileges at a hospital within 30 miles where the procedure was performed. This is yet another measure to restrict abortion and other reproductive services.
As reported earlier by The Practical Progressive, this legislation would prevent out-of-state doctors, who are licensed in Oklahoma, from performing the procedures. This has been a common practice in some states.
Last legislative session, the state passed laws restricting abortion in the state. The restrictions included the requirement minors get parental consent before they have an abortion and state funding of anti-choice information centers. The legislature also passed laws requiring physicians tell women the fetus feels pain, which is not proven scientifically. A new law also requires doctors to offer women a sonogram view of the fetus before an abortion.
There was also a political effort last year to restrict access to Plan B, the emergency contraceptive for women. Plan B has been approved for over-the-counter sales by the Federal Drug Administration.
State legislators of both major political parties will continue to impose their religious views on Oklahoma women by restricting their access to reproductive services until people speak up. This issue marginalizes women in our overall culture, and especially in conservative Oklahoma, and denies women freedom to make decisions about their own bodies.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, an organization that tracks reproductive rights: “In 2000, 96% of Oklahoma counties had no abortion provider. 56% of Oklahoma women lived in these counties. In the South census region, where Oklahoma is located, 32% of women having abortions traveled at least 50 miles, and 10% traveled more than 100 miles.”
No rational person favors the use of abortion for standard birth control, but religious ideologues also want to restrict access to basic birth control as well. Sex education and easy access to birth control will bring down the unwanted-pregnancy rate, but the ideologues—primarily Christian extremists—have a larger agenda.
It’s important to note this will probably not be the only measure this upcoming session trying to restrict reproductive rights in Oklahoma. Kern represents an area in northwest Oklahoma City and Bethany. She and other Christian extremists may well introduce more legislation denying women the ability to control what happens to their bodies.
Abortion is obviously a controversial issue for some Christians, but no one is forced to have an abortion in this country. If you’re against abortion, don’t have one. This is about state Christian fundamentalists demanding everyone view the world through their narrow-minded religious filter. This is about religious intrusion in government. This is about politically moderate and liberal Christians (is “liberal Christian” an oxymoron these days?) allowing right-wing Christian extremists to hijack their religion on a couple of cultural wedge issues like abortion and gay rights.
Do a majority of Oklahoma woman want to give up their reproductive rights. No. But many women are afraid to speak up in a state that marginalizes anyone who dissents from the right-wing, religious agenda.
I wrote this on March 4, 2006 on Okie Funk:
"Not one Oklahoma politician has come out forcefully and presented counter legislation that would stop the religious freaks from embarrassing our state, damaging our economy by branding us with the 'ignorant hick' logo, and turning our schools into quasi-churches.
"Not one Oklahoma politician in this state has stepped up and said 'enough is enough,' championing the cause of intellectualism and rationalism and logic and medical science, the hallmarks of modernity and enlightenment.
"Not one Oklahoma politician has said figuratively and loudly to our college graduates now leaving the state in droves that the fight for intellectual freedom can be waged even in one of the reddest of red states."
A bill (SB 24) filed by state Sen. Patrick Anderson (R-Enid) would limit the growth of state spending to the previous year’s spending plus five percent.
Sounds like a TABOR hybrid, and you can expect similar measures this coming session.
TABOR, or the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, is the idea that the growth of state spending should be limited to the previous year’s spending plus an increase based on a formula tied to population growth and the inflation rate. An initiative petition drive to place the issue as a constitutional amendment on the ballot here was declared invalid by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Oklahoma, which lags far behind in education funding in the country, simply can’t allow itself to be tied to budget measures that restrict it from taking care of its structural problems. For example, the state has had one of the lowest per student spending rates in the nation for years. It often has the lowest or near the lowest teacher salaries in the nation as well.
It’s virtually impossible to increase taxes without a vote of the people in Oklahoma, and the legislature has been reducing taxes lately, not raising them. If the state has extra money to wisely and prudently invest in improving the state, then it should do so. This is just common sense, not ideology.