Oklahoma Senate committee leader won't hear bill to criminalize abortion
A bill that would criminalize abortion in Oklahoma won’t be brought up for a committee vote this year, according to the chairman of the Senate Health Committee.
“We are not going to hear it because I am opposed to it as it is written,” said Sen. Jason Smalley, the chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services committee, which has been assigned the bill.
Senate Bill 13 reclassifies abortion as murder.
Anti-abortion activists gathered at the state Capitol this week to encourage Republican lawmakers to support the bill. At the rally, Sen. Joseph Silk, the author of SB 13, accused Republicans of “protecting the abortion industry.”
“We as the people have to force the Legislature to bring SB 13 for a hearing,” said Silk, R-Broken Bow.
Smalley, R-Stroud, said he is against abortion but does not want to advance a bill that is likely to be ruled unconstitutional.
Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, who has given committee leaders the leeway to hear whatever legislation they want, said he shares Smalley's view.
“I am extremely passionate about protecting the unborn, so if I thought (SB 13) would save a single human life, I would be jumping up and down to make sure we pass it,” Treat said.
Treat said losing a legal challenge could “hurt the pro-life movement.”
Because the bill is also assigned to the Senate Appropriations Committee it won’t have enough time to advance if there is no hearing in the Health Committee by the end of next week, Smalley said.
“I support the bill’s author and I support his cause,” Smalley said. “I just don’t support his methods.”