FLORIDA, May 2, 2012 — This could possibly be the first time
Last Wednesday, a very interesting scuttle broke out on the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Rep. Mike Reynolds, a stalwart opponent of abortion rights, attempted to introduce a bill which would have defined human life as beginning at the very moment of conception.
Also referred to as a personhood act, this would effectively criminalize all pregnancy terminations as well as in vitro fertilization procedures and certain types of birth control. In what is sometimes referred to as the buckle of the Bible Belt, such a piece of legislation might be expected to pass with considerable ease.
Not so, and much to my surprise.
The Republican House leadership refused to hear the bill, which had been previously passed by the Senate and approved by the former chamber’s committee on public health. In refusing to hear what is formally titled Senate Bill 1433, both Speaker Pro Tempore Jeff Hickman and Majority Leader Dale DeWitt timed it out of session.
Considering that this parliamentary maneuver took place the day after officials representing religious groups, such as the Southern Baptist Convention, and powerful special interests, like the National Right to Life, held a press conference vocalizing strong support for S.B. 1433, the actions of those House leaders can only be described as bold, if not daring.
“The Republican leadership in Oklahoma is testing the resolve of the state’s pro-life movement,” Keith Mason, the President of Personhood USA proclaimed. “The question at hand is who will fight harder—politicians settling for inaction or the people advocating for the lives of the preborn?” If a report from the Tulsa Beacon, a theoconservative newsweekly, is to be believed, then the state Chamber of Commerce is in fact holding the cards here. Apparently, it “instructed the GOP leadership to (evade S.B. 1433) because (it) didn’t want any negative national publicity.”
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