PEEK

Forced child-birth legislation killed in Oklahoma

Pamela Merritt: If a reproductive rights victory is achieved, and few witness it, did it really happen?
Editor's note: This originally appeared on Broadsheet.

If a reproductive rights victory is achieved, and few witness it, did it really happen?

Of course it did!

Back in April, grassroots and state activists in Oklahoma helped block SB 714 (PDF), which was poised to ban the use of public funds to pay for abortions except to save the life of the mother. Oklahoma's governor Brad Henry vetoed the bill, but its backers threatened to override the veto -- and fell short by just one vote.

In its original form, SB 714 would have prohibited state employees or facilities, including agencies that receive state funding, from performing or "encouraging" a woman to have an abortion. The legislation would prohibit publicly funded hospitals from providing women therapeutic abortions, which protect the health of the mother or terminate a pregnancy in which the fetus demonstrates a genetic anomaly.

This state-level victory received little media or blog coverage, and was quickly overshadowed by the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act.

Thankfully, National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) prevented the victory from going unnoticed by organizing a conference call last Friday, and I got to listen in.

It was a rare pleasure to discuss a reproductive rights victory with those who achieved it, but there was more to this conference call than a celebration of success.
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