A bill to criminalize abortion in Oklahoma faces unlikely odds in the state Legislature.
Despite a change of leadership on a key committee, Sen. Joseph Silk’s “Abolition of Abortion in Oklahoma Act” could stall again this year because of opposition from Senate leadership.
Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat opposes Senate Bill 13, which would classify abortion as a homicide and carried over from last year.
“I agree with abolishing abortion,” Treat said. “If I thought that Senate Bill 13 would save a single human life, I would be on board fully. I am still of the mind that it is fatally flawed.”
Treat said in his opinion, the bill is more about seceding from the union than it is about saving lives.
SB 13 seeks to have Oklahoma abolish abortion regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized the practice. Under the proposed legislation, Oklahoma would ignore that court ruling.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of Oklahomans who support SB 13 will converge on the state Capitol on Tuesday to lobby for the bill to get a hearing. Organizers of the rally are hoping to get 5,000 attendees.
The bill’s author, Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow, criticized a bill the Oklahoma House passed last week that would suspend the medical license of any doctors who perform abortions.
“(SB 13) is the only bill in the state right now that would actually provide equal protection to all unborn children,” he said.
Silk said he’s not surprised Treat, R-Oklahoma City, still opposes the bill. He’s also trying to find time to discuss the bill with Sen. Greg McCortney, the new chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. McCortney declined to comment on SB 13.
Former Sen. Jason Smalley, who previously led the committee, refused to hear SB 13 last year. Smalley, who resigned from the Senate last month, refused to advance the measure because he said it was likely unconstitutional.
“My request is to just let the political process play out,” Silk said. “Allow the bill to be debated on, to be questioned and explained. If it fails in committee, it fails in committee, but let’s just let it get a hearing.”
This is Silk’s last year in the state Senate. After clashing with Senate leadership over the controversial anti-abortion bill last year, Silk decided not to seek re-election this year. Instead, he plans to challenge U.S Rep. Markwayne Mullin in the June Republican primary for Oklahoma’s 2nd congressional district.
House Minority Leader Emily Virgin called the views of the abolish abortion movement “very extreme” for wanting to penalize pregnant women seeking an abortion.