OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — A senator in Oklahoma has again introduced a bill that would completely outlaw abortion in the state — a measure that has generated much support from fellow abolitionists but also faces opposition from stated pro-life leaders who assert that an incremental regulatory approach would be more practical.
Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow, introduced S.B. 13, also known as the Abolition of Abortion in Oklahoma Act, on Feb. 4.
“It is the intent of the legislature to provide to unborn children the equal protection of the laws of this state; to establish that a living human child, from the moment of fertilization upon the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum, is entitled to the same rights, powers, privileges, justice and protections as are secured or granted by the laws of this state to any other human person,” the bill reads in part.
It also removes an exception from current Oklahoma homicide law that excludes prosecution when “acts were committed during a legal abortion to which the pregnant woman consented.”
“Homicide shall include, but not be limited to, acts which cause the death of an unborn child committed during an abortion,” the new law would read if passed.
The bill also directs the district attorney to enforce the law, “regardless of any contrary or conflicting federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, or court decisions.”
“Any federal statute, regulation, executive order or court decision which purports to supersede, stay or overrule this Act is in violation of the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma and the Constitution of the United States of America and is therefore void,” it declares.
Silk, who is introducing the bill for the third time, told reporters in 2018 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 is hoping to obtain a hearing this year, in spite of his greatest obstacle being pro-life organizations and politicians who oppose the measure as they believe that states must wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe and regulate legalized abortion in the meantime.
One website, called “Abolition Truth,” was launched last month to take aim at S.B. 13 in asserting that it will not “save a single life.”
“The measure would not end abortion in Oklahoma since the law would immediately be enjoined either by a state or federal court,” the site reads. “Such an injunction would remain in effect until such time as a legal challenge could be heard and decided in that court.”
It is uncertain who is behind the site. Organizations such as the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, the Roman Catholic Arch Diocese of Oklahoma City and Oklahomans for Life all opposed the bill last year.
“Credible expert legal/policy analysis indicates S.B. 13 will be invalidated immediately by the courts, if it passes at all, and we cannot save lives with legislation that never goes into effect,” wrote Convention President Blake Gideon, Treasurer Hance Dilbeck, and Baptist Messenger Editor Brian Hobbs in an open letter in 2019.
“There are more proven and plausible life-saving policies Oklahoma could enact en route to ending the tragic practice of abortion, while simultaneously offering support and help for abortion-vulnerable mothers,” they contended.
Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, likewise told Tulsa World this month that while he wants to see abortion made illegal again, he believes that the proposed legislation is “fatally flawed.” Last year, then-Health and Human Services Committee Chair Jason Smalley declined to allow S.B. 13 to have a hearing as he similarly did not agree with the approach, although identifying as pro-life.
Silk pushed back in a statement on Jan. 27, particularly in regard to the “Abolition Truth” website, which he said doesn’t present truth at all, but rather misinformation.
The site claims that if the bill becomes law and the courts strike it down, the ruling could result in the undoing of “existing regulations on abortion,” such as those requiring parental notification prior to obtaining an abortion or prohibiting late-term abortion. Silk’s bill requires the State to ignore the courts and enforce the law regardless of any contrary ruling.
“Oklahomans who value life are infuriated that someone claiming to be pro-life has spent time and money building and promoting a website that opposes equal protection for unborn Oklahomans,” he said. “The fact that this person or group is doing this while 14 innocent, unborn children are brutally murdered every day in our state shows the true evilness in their hypocrisy and deceitfulness.”
“Even after the public outcry last year, it is apparent that some leaders among our churches and pro-life groups still don’t get the message that the people of Oklahoma want the political games to stop and abortion to end immediately,” Silk lamented.
Conversely, hundreds are gathering this week at the state capital to support S.B. 13, and to rally in support of the legislation, which aims to outlaw abortion altogether in Oklahoma rather than regulate the murder of the preborn. As of Monday, supporters were visiting legislative offices to urge lawmakers to back the bill.
“My hope is that we can all move forward together to end the ongoing holocaust of 5,000 Oklahoma children that are murdered every year,” Silk said.
As previously reported, in Idaho, Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, submitted House Bill 361 last month, also known as the Idaho Abortion Human Rights Act. The bill seeks to outlaw abortion in the state by eliminating an exception in current law that forbids criminal prosecution when the mother has given consent to kill her unborn child.
Missouri Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, also filed House Bill 2285, also known as the “Abolition of Abortion in Missouri Act”. It nixes language in current state law that regulates abortion and eliminates current text citing the intention to adhere to related rulings issued by the U.S. Supreme Court.
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