Oklahoma Is OK for Dan Patrick

Oklahoma now requires ultrasounds for pregnant women seeking abortion. Is Texas next?

It is official: Freshman state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, belongs in Oklahoma. And they can have him. It seems Patrick, the king of extreme inane conservatism, belongs up there with the kind of folks who will agree with him on legislative matters. Case in point: Last year Patrick urged lawmakers to pass Senate Bill 920, which would require a woman seeking an abortion to first review an ultrasound of her fetus. This, apparently, would do the trick to make the poor addled woman understand how very serious her situation is and turn her to the side of right, convincing her to have her baby. (Apparently a woman who is too stupid to take seriously her situation is also perfectly suited to parenthood. Who woulda thunk it? Dan Patrick, that's who!) Patrick's colleagues, thankfully, did not take the bait.

But lawmakers in Oklahoma have not only taken up the same issue, they have now passed the nation's most restrictive ultrasound law. The measure requires vaginal or abdominal ultrasound – whichever yields a better image of the fetus (most often, a vaginal image) – prior to every abortion procedure; there is no way for a woman to opt out of the procedure. In other words, the state is mandating that a woman undergo an invasive medical procedure – insertion of ultrasound equipment – without any medical necessity for it. Moreover, the law lacks any exception for women who are victims of rape or incest (although those altruistic lawmakers did include a provision that would allow a woman – without penalty – to avert her eyes and refuse to look at the image).

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry vetoed the legislation on April 16, but lawmakers rallied, overriding the veto the next day. Anti-abortion groups were, predictably, thrilled, issuing press releases that rehash the same tired lines about women having all the facts before choosing abortion, as if they had any moral authority to claim that women don't already do that.

Be prepared: The 2009 legislative session is right around the corner, and with the recent Oklahoma "victory," you can bet that the posse of legislators who like to spend their days at the Capitol looking up women's skirts will be eager to follow suit. Don't say you weren't warned.

For more, check out our War on Women's Health page.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

reproductive rights, women's health, Dan Patrick, ultrasound, The Dan Patrick Files

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