Oklahoma Republicans Are One Signature Away From Banning Abortion

* The following is an opinion column by R Muse *

When the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) convinced the religious right that the only way to continue electing Republicans across the South was launching a crusade to overturn Roe v. Wade, the evangelicals made it their cause célèbre. In fact, despite abortion being a completely legal medical procedure since 1973, religious Republicans have devised various abominations to restrict a woman’s right to choose. Since their efforts have failed to actually criminalize or ban abortions, there have been several successful attempts to punish service providers such as OB/GYNs, women’s health clinics and of course, Planned Parenthood, but abortion is still legal.

Now, and this has been coming for a while, Oklahoma Republicans decided since they cannot criminalize having or seeking an abortion, they will just eliminate doctors and thus eliminate abortion. This week a bill is sitting on Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin’s desk waiting for a signature that allows the religious Republicans to revoke the license to practice medicine of any doctor “caught” providing a constitutionally-protected and legal medical procedure.

Actually, the Oklahoma law doesn’t make performing an abortion a crime; it just makes a doctor performing an abortion no longer a doctor in Oklahoma. The religious Republican state legislature argued that the bill’s intent is not to punish doctors, but to “protect life.” It is yet unknown if the governor will sign the legislation into law, but if so Oklahoma will be the first theocracy in the Union to successfully ban a constitutionally legal medical procedure for everyone in the state on one twisted religion’s demand. It is a twisted religion because its own “holy book” of “god’s perfect immutable utterances” says a fetus is no life for an anti-abortion law to protect.

The evangelical Republicans claim that eliminating a woman’s right to choose is not targeting women or doctors, or that revoking or chasing doctors out of state will not affect the state’s already woeful lack of physicians by enacting an unconstitutional ban. Instead they claimed revoking doctors’ licenses and eliminating women’s choice is how they are combating poverty, drug addiction, erosion of the family and myriad other social issues they claim are destroying Oklahoma’s economy. According to state Representative David Brumbaugh (R), religious Republicans had to do something for the economy quickly because “If we take care of morality, God will take care of the economy.”

What Mr. Brumbaugh failed to address is who is going to take care of sick and injured Oklahomans as doctors flee an oppressive theocracy forcing them to be either religious fanatics or lose their medical license. Already in five Republican states the theocratic legislatures have chased doctors away by “restricting, harassing, and intimidating doctors serving women out of business.” Republicans in the House are doing the same thing to medical companies, scientists, and university research laboratories by attempting to gather, and publish, private information about “any researcher, technician or student” even remotely connected to any study involving fetal tissue research.

One member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, Dr. Pratima Gupta said “Whether this bill is signed into law or not, the fact that it’s made it to the governor’s desk is appalling and offensive.” Gupta also complained that the law “will force doctors to give their patients deceptive and unscientific advice just to keep their medical licenses.”

This is already happening in religious Republicans states such as Arizona that passed a law “forcing” doctors to tell patients that after having an abortion, it can be reversed; something that would be a sight to behold indeed.

Dr. Mark DeFancesco, the president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has spent no small amount of time testifying in front of Republican legislatures that politicians are not OB/GYNs. He said that the theocratic legislation “only puts women at further risk.” He warned that banning abortion by revoking doctors’ licenses will force women to turn to unsafe, illegal methods to end a pregnancy. DeFrancesco wrote in response to the bill’s progress to the governor’s desk,

Politics have no place in an exam room. Health care decisions should be made jointly by patients and their trusted health care providers. Not by politicians who lack medical training and who clearly do not have women’s best interests in mind.”

Anyone cognizant of the growing theocratic influence in conservative politics already knows that Republicans have never had “women’s best interests in mind.” In red state after red state, religious Republicans are attacking women’s reproductive health and constitutionally-protected rights without pause and no-one seems to care, or is willing, to address the basis of these abhorrent attacks. Why no politician will attribute these anti-women’s acts to imposition of religious and a violation of the Constitution’s separation of church and state is an atrocity and frankly, damned cowardly.

Despite what the religious Republicans in Oklahoma, or any of the several theocratic states or the U.S. Congress claim, these are blatant attacks borne of a seriously twisted form of Christianity. The purpose, no matter what Republicans or evangelicals claim is not to “help the economy” or “protect life;” they are to exert control over women, their bodies, and what little of their Constitutional rights remain. In Oklahoma, women are one signature away from losing their constitutional right to choose and doctors from losing their medical licenses and ability to provide for their families. And no, god will no more take care of Oklahoma women than he will save the economy because Oklahoma banned abortion.