Capital Corner

by Gus Blackwell

This week marked another week of slow floor action, but two significant actions were taken to strengthen families. Although the week will not be remembered in terms of the quantity of bills that were considered, it was memorable for one bill and a resolution that passed. On Thursday, HB 1686 was passed by the House by a vote of 95-3 that contained major pro-life legislation. This marks a milestone for those who have worked diligently to get this type of legislation passed. For years pro-life legislation was killed in committee in either one chamber or another.

This bill was originally a computer bill when it was sent to the Senate with the title off (meaning it would need to be amended and would come back to the House for a vote). The Senate had already killed four pro-life bills that had been sent over to their side. However, this time the Senate was able to get language in this bill that mirrored the bills that they had already defeated. The bill was amended to include the pro-life language and the title was restored.

On the House side the amendments were accepted and the bill was on its way to the governor's office. The bill contains three significant provisions. They are parental notification, informed consent, and language that mirror the “Laci Peterson” law. Each of these individually is significant, but in concert this represents a tremendous step forward.

The parental notification section requires that a minor getting an abortion must have permission from one parent. If a judge feels that this would endanger the teen, then another responsible adult can give permission. This allows those who love the teens the most to be involved in a decision that will affect them the rest of their lives.

Informed consent requires that when any abortion is performed, the woman must be informed about alternatives to this procedure. Information that would be provided includes risks associated with the procedure, the gestational age of the fetus and other information about the characteristics of the unborn child. This must be presented 24 hours in advance of the procedure.

The Laci Peterson language simply authorizes prosecutors to charge anyone who causes the death of an unborn child with the same penalties as those of a child that has been born. It is similar to a federal law that was written after the murder of Laci Peterson and her unborn baby.

House Resolution 1039 passed the House and urged library officials to restrict children's access to books with homosexual and other adult themes. Right now the Oklahoma City library and some other libraries have an opposite policy called an “open shelving” policy. Although an overwhelming majority of Oklahomans support the House resolution, the library board indicated that they would probably not cooperate with the request. They were also indignant that money may be withheld from them because of their lack of cooperation.

Both the bill and the resolution help empower Oklahoma families and parents. That is one of my goals in serving in the legislature, to strengthen families in our state. I hope during the last two weeks, more bills can be passed that help families with the difficult task of raising our future.

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