Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law an anti-abortion bill that requires doctors to notify women of the availability of perinatal hospice services as alternatives to an abortion. The Associated Press reports Fallin signed the bill Monday along with about two dozen others.
Republican state Rep. Randy Grau wrote the bill that imposes the new requirements. It is intended to provide an alternative to abortion for women who learn that a fetus has a condition incompatible with sustaining life after birth.
The Oklahoman reports that House Bill 2685 actually bans abortions unless patients provide consent 24 hours prior to the procedure being performed. Now that it is law, “knowingly or recklessly” performing an abortion without that consent is considered a felony.
Tony Lauinger, the chairman of Oklahomans for Life, heralded Fallin’s signing of the bill in a statement to the website National Right to Life News.
“Our throw-away culture today too often exhibits a coarsened attitude toward the intrinsic value of each individual human life – especially the life of a child with a diagnosis of severe or lethal disability – and too readily regards killing as an acceptable ‘solution’ in such a case,” he said. “The least we should do when a family faces the heartbreak of such a diagnosis is provide them information about the positive alternative of perinatal hospice, comfort care, and family counseling.”
The hospice services offered to the family can include obstetricians, neonatologists, psychiatrists or other mental health professionals as well as clergy, social workers and specialty nurses. They would be offered from the time of diagnosis through the infant’s birth and expected death.
Opponents of such legislation argue that the laws are tactics designed to limit a woman’s access to legal abortions.
“These laws take informed consent and stretch it to the very boundaries. It’s not really informed consent anymore at this point; it’s trying to sway women from having an abortion. It turns it into a shaming process,” Elizabeth Nash, of the Guttmacher Institute, told Think Progress.
The Guttmacher Institute is a reproductive health non-profit organization and advocacy group for abortion rights.
“[Women] don’t need politicians to tell them what to do with a complicated pregnancy. These maneuvers are ultimately trying to chip away at Roe v. Wade,” said Nora Spencer of Planned Parenthood.
Three states — Arizona, Kansas and Minnesota — have laws requiring that hospice information be provided to women considering an abortion. A similar bill passed in the Alabama state legislature earlier this month.