Thursday, February 21, 2019

SB13 should receive a fair hearing and vote in the legislative process

Senate President Greg Treat (R-OKC) and State Sen. Jason Smalley (R-Stroud)

State Senator Jason Smalley (R-Stroud) is the chairman of the Senate Health & Human Services. One of the bills assigned to his committee is Senate Bill 13, the Abolition of Abortion in Oklahoma Act, authored by State Senator Joseph Silk (R-Broken Bow). Silk has been a champion for the unborn during his tenure in office, and has consistently been one of the top three most-conservative members of the State Senate by any metric (he ranked 1st in my 2016 and 2017 Conservative Performance Indexes).

Most Republicans profess allegiance to a pro-life ethic when they campaign for office. Especially in conservative states and regions, it's incredibly difficult for a Republican to espouse support for abortion and win. Yet, more often than not, that resolve melts away as soon as they take office. The rate at which self-proclaimed pro-life Republican elected officials betray and wimp out on their supposed convictions is alarming.

Sen. Smalley, as well as Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat (R-OKC), both claim pro-life credentials. They have both campaigned as pro-life conservatives, and both have advocated for pro-life legislation in the past.

And yet, both Smalley and Treat are standing in the way of a measure that seeks the same consistent goal that they have both espoused -- the end of abortion in Oklahoma.

Smalley and Treat have both told the media that they take issue with some of the language in SB13, and won't advance the measure due to that. Treat told the Tulsa World "The language that was in the final, introduced version of Senate Bill 13 was very troubling". This is being disingenuous. There is nothing "final" about any language in a legislative measure until it is enrolled and sent to the Governor for his signature.

If Smalley and Treat have any objections to specific language SB13, they should have the honesty to bring up the measure in committee and offer amendments according to the legislative process rather than kill the bill by purposeful inaction. 

Republican candidates and elected officials have been extremely willing to string pro-life voters along for as much as they can milk out of them -- volunteer hours, campaign donations, and votes. Such one-sided commitment must be reciprocated at some point, or else the relationship will not last and those candidates and elected officials will be up a creek without a paddle. Self-proclaimed "pro-life" elected officials who refuse to actually support and advance those values should be rejected by pro-life voters.

In recent days, SB13 has been coauthored by a wide-ranging group of Republican Senators: conservative members Nathan Dahm and Mark Allen, and moderate members Paul Scott and Casey Murdock. I was at a recent meeting where another moderate Republican spoke favorably of SB13. If given a fair opportunity, SB13 would have a very real chance of passage in the Legislature.

If the Senate passed the General Appropriations bill and sent it to the House, they would be outraged if the House dismissed it out of hand and refused to hear the measure simply because they didn't agree with 100% of the written language. Senator Treat would rightly expect the measure to receive a fair hearing and vote, as well as the opportunity to submit amendments in the normal legislative process.

The dirty little secret about any legislation dealing with protecting the unborn is that secular monied interests in this state oppose it on the grounds that it "hurts economic development", gives Oklahoma "a reputation as a backwards state", and runs counter to the worldview pushed by the [East and West coast led and based] cultural and societal establishment.

To Senators Treat and Smalley, I ask -- which is more important in the sight of God: the "almighty dollar", or the life of the unborn created in the image of God?

Senate Bill 13 should receive a fair hearing and vote in the Senate's Health & Human Services Committee.

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