Oklahoma Legislature Acts to Protect Vulnerable Patients, Support Pro-Life Pregnancy Resource Centers
By Tony Lauinger, State Chairman, Oklahomans for Life
Governor Mary Fallin on Friday signed into law the “Choosing Childbirth Act,” HB 1703. This was one of three bills Oklahomans For Life urged the Oklahoma legislature to enact this session. Thanks to you who responded to our requests for contacts with legislators, two of the three bills became law.
The Choosing Childbirth Act establishes a program to promote, incentivize, and provide support for pregnancy resource centers, also known as “crisis pregnancy centers.” Pregnancy resource centers are pro-life facilities, often staffed by volunteers, that provide alternatives to abortion. They assist a pregnant woman in carrying her child to term by providing counseling, ultrasounds, prenatal care, parenting classes, maternity clothes, adoption options, and other goods and services.
Now that the program is established, it will, when funded by the Oklahoma legislature in the future, compensate individual pregnancy resource centers for reimbursable services provided. Individual centers could either accept or decline any funds which may later become available through the program.
The other pro-life bill we supported that was signed into law by Governor Fallin is HB 1894, which helps protect vulnerable patients from being denied life-preserving care. The new law improves clarity in health-care decision-making by establishing a hierarchy of individuals with authority to give consent to treatment on behalf of a patient incapable of making decisions for himself if that patient has not appointed a health-care proxy.
Such decisions would be made in accordance with the known intentions, values, and wishes of the patient. In cases of dispute, a court would determine which family member or surrogate more truly represents the wishes of the patient and life-preserving treatment would continue to be provided while the court reaches its decision.
The third bill we advocated for this year, HB 1495, the Death Certificate Accuracy Act, passed the House but was not allowed to be voted on in committee in the Senate. The chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Senator Ervin Yen, did not support the bill and did not put it on the committee agenda for a vote.
HB 1495 would help protect against assisted suicide by ensuring accuracy in reporting the cause of death on death certificates. Advocates of legal assisted suicide – seeking to conceal the growing harm and pressure that such utilitarian laws inflict on the vulnerable, the elderly, and the depressed – are increasingly recommending to those who participate in assisting suicide that they report an underlying illness, instead of suicide, as the cause of death in order to hide what is actually occurring.
Our special thanks to Representatives Travis Dunlap and Kevin Calvey, and to Senators Anthony Sykes, Greg Treat, and Dan Newberry for their exceptional pro-life leadership during this year’s legislative session.
And thanks to all of you for your contacts with our elected officials.