OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — A bill that would have outlawed abortion in the state of Oklahoma as an act of murder will not be brought up for a vote as per the decision of Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chair Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud.
As previously reported, the “Abolition of Abortion in Oklahoma Act,” Senate Bill 13, filed by Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow, states that the definition of a human being includes the unborn, and “from the moment of fertilization.”
Therefore, under existing homicide statutes, which define the crime as “the killing of one human being by another,” the unborn would be equally protected, and specifically regarding “acts which cause the death of an unborn child committed during an abortion.”
“Any federal statute, regulation, executive order or court decision which purports to supersede, stay or overrule this [bill] is in violation of the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma and the Constitution of the United States of America and is therefore void,” the bill also declares.
Silk had told reporters in November that he believes state sovereignty needs to be asserted in the face of Roe v. Wade, just like when a number of states sought to abolish slavery despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dred Scott v. Sanford affirming the “rights” of slave owners.
“The Supreme Court also ruled that slaves were private property and they were wrong. And so, the courts do need to be challenged,” Silk said. “The goal is to say we are a sovereign state and choose to abolish abortion.”
Silk put forward a similar bill in 2016, but it was likewise stalled by Republican state leadership.
While Committee Chair Smalley says that he opposes abortion, he decided not to give the measure a hearing this legislative session as he doesn’t agree with the approach.
“I’m extremely pro-life. I support the efforts. I support the cause, and I do support the author. I just do not support this kind of method,” Smalley, who attends First Baptist Church of Stroud, told local television station KFOR on Saturday, opining that the bill put forward is “extremely unconstitutional.”
“We have other bills. There’s a personhood bill. We could look at the heartbeat bill. I mean, there’s other pro-life movement bills that we could tank up and discuss and continue that movement towards I think what we all want,” he said, “but this is not the method nor the bill to do that.”
The Personhood Act referred to by Smalley is Senate Bill 195, which reads, “The life of each human being begins at conception. Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being.” It declares that “The laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development all of the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state.”
It is unclear why Smalley supports SB 195, but not SB 13.
Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, has also expressed objection to the legislation.
“I had several opportunities to visit with individuals about Senate Bill 13 and the goal of ending abortion in Oklahoma. I share the goal of ending abortion; however, I am concerned about flaws in their strategy,” he said in a statement. “Missteps not only jeopardize existing hard-fought protections in law, but potentially lead to an increased loss of innocent life through abortions.”
However, Silk said that he disagrees with the views of Smalley and Treat, and is disappointed that in a state where the Senate Republicans outnumber the Democrats 39 to 9 a bill to outlaw abortion is not being allowed to come up for a vote. He stated that he didn’t receive notice that his legislation wouldn’t be heard, but rather found out about the decision through the newspaper on Saturday.
“The senators who oppose SB 13 have zero knowledge of the Constitution and how our republic is supposed to work,” he told The Resurgent in a statement. “They believe that the courts are all powerful and can decide whatever they like, whether it is constitutional or not. They also have no intention of doing what they campaigned on and actually protect innocent life.“
“If SB 13 came to a committee or full Senate vote, it would pass with a majority,” Silk opined. “The Oklahoma Senate is overwhelmingly pro-life Republicans in public and votes, however [Smalley and Treat] will do whatever they can to keep it from coming to a vote because they don’t want to [do] something that is controversial and impactful.”
Silk says that despite Smalley’s decision not to hear the bill, the effort is not “dead” yet. He urges Oklahoma residents to contact Smalley to urge him to allow the legislation to come up for a vote.
Editor’s Note: Sen. Smalley can be contacted via email at Smalley@OKSenate.gov, by phone at (405)521-5547 or via Facebook message by clicking here.