While the Supreme Court ruling on abortion raised more questions
than it answered, one thing is clear: states will now have the power
to legislate conditions on when and where abortions are performed.
Already legislators who support the pro-life view, such as Rep.
Bill Graves, R-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Frank Rhodes, R-Catoosa, are
gearing up to introduce legislation restricting state-funded
"I plan to introduce a bill to try to make Oklahoma law as
restrictive as Missouri's law," said Graves.
"I think the matter of abortion belongs to the states only
because the U.S. is based on federalism."
The July 3 5-to-4 ruling in Webster vs. Reproductive Health
Services upheld Missouri law, which bans abortions in public
hospitals. It also lets Missouri require doctors to test the
viability of a fetus believed to be at least 20 weeks old before an
abortion can occur, although medical experts agree viability usually
begins around the 23rd or 24th week of pregnancy. Graves said his
legislation would most likely include a requirement for viability
Anxious to set the pro-life crusade into motion, Graves sent a
letter to Gov. Henry Bellmon Wednesday requesting inclusion of
abortion on the agenda for the special legislative session that
begins Aug. 14.
"Many Oklahomans believe no time should be wasted in saving the
lives of unborn children," he wrote in the letter.
Sam Armstrong, Bellmon's press secretary said it is "highly
unlikely" the governor would change the call for the special
session, slated to focus on education, because he prefers waiting
until the other three abortion cases are decided in the fall by the
Bellmon is not expected to answer the request before next week
since he is in South Carolina on business.
Meanwhile, Stan Engle, spokesman for Life Issues, a pro-life
activist organization in Oklahoma City, said his organization plans
to protest the governor and expects to circulate a petition if he
refuses to consider abortion on Aug. 14.
Regardless of Bellmon's decision, Life Issues plans to rally at
the state capitol on Aug. 14 at noon to give pro-lifers an
opportunity to voice their concerns to the legislature. Engle
expects more than 2,000 people to turn out for the event.
"We have received hundreds of calls from (pro-life) supporters
since the Webster decision," he said.
Life Issues is supported by about 25 doctors, 4,000 citizens and
120 churches in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. Statewide,
Engle said about 16,000 people support the pro-life movement.
Although pro-choice activists argue legitimate studies indicate
the rate of abortion, about 25 percent of all conceptions, has
remained unchanged over the years, Graves doesn't believe that.
"There have been 25 million abortions since 1973," Graves said.
"That is a crime of the first degree," he said, comparing
abortion to atrocities commited in Nazi Germany during the
Graves, who favors overturning Roe vs. Wade, says the abortion
problem actually began with the creation of the right to privacy in
the 1965 Griswold vs. Connecticut case, which Graves said "invented
the right of privacy." The landmark Supreme Court decision
recognized that a married couple has a right of privacy that cannot
be infringed upon by a state law making it a crime to use