Friday, March 24, 2023

Elected officials blast Oklahoma Supreme Court for manufacturing limited 'right' to abortion out of thin air

I've been busy with work and other responsibilities, and missed posting about the Oklahoma Supreme Court decision the other day that manufactured a 'limited' "right" to abortion in the Oklahoma Constitution.

The majority opinion was joined by justices Douglas Combs, James Edmondson, Noma Gurich, Yvonne Kauger, and James Winchester. Of these five, Winchester is the lone justice appointed by a Republican governor, but I've warned about him previously and told people to vote to not retain him as a justice. Dissenting were Chief Justice John Kane IV, Vice Chief Justice Dustin Rowe, and justices Richard Darby and Dana Kuehn.

This Oklahoman article is a good synopsis of the ruling and situation. Chief Justice Kane had this blistering comment blasting the majority opinion:
Kane wrote a dissenting opinion saying the majority of justices had engaged in “legal contortions to protect pregnant women who are in medical peril by fashioning Oklahoma Constitution precepts of abortion law that simply do not exist.

“There is no expressed or implied right to abortion enshrined in the Oklahoma Constitution. In interpreting our Constitution, this court must guard against the innate human temptation to confuse what is provided in the Oklahoma Constitution with what one wishes were provided.”

Here are reactions from State Sen. Nathan Dahm (primary author of the original bill), House Speaker Charles McCall, and Governor Kevin Stitt.

Sen. Dahm releases statement regarding Court incompetence

(March 21st) Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, released the following statement after the Oklahoma Supreme Court declared 63 O.S. § 1-731.4, or Senate Bill 612, unconstitutional.

“Today five justices on the Supreme Court of Oklahoma created a limited right to abortion out of whole cloth. In a facetious exercise referencing the Dobbs decision, the majority ‘found’ that a right to abortion is ‘deeply rooted in the history and traditions’ of our state. In the process, they rendered Senate Bill 612 void and unenforceable.

“The Court prefers the language ‘preserve the life of’ to the language ‘save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency.’ To accomplish this language change, they created a new ‘right’ to an abortion. Regardless of the political preferences of the justices, determining the semantics of any exception is a policy decision that lies with the Legislature, not the courts. This is gross judicial overreach.

“The people of Oklahoma deserve better than this arbitrary and capricious legislating from the bench. The sheer incompetence on display by this court is astounding.”

Senate Bill 612 passed the Senate and House of Representatives and was signed by Governor Stitt in 2022. It prohibited abortion in the state of Oklahoma except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency. SB 612 defined medical emergency as a condition which cannot be remedied by delivery and is necessary to preserve the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness or physical injury including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.

House Speaker on OK Supreme Court Abortion Ruling

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 21st) – Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, today released the below statement following Tuesday's ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court that the state constitution "protects a limited right to an abortion," according to the court's majority opinion.

"Functionally, this Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling merely repeals vague language in previously passed legislation. Current statute already accounts for cases where the life of the mother is at risk, so the right to life remains protected.

Oklahomans can rest assured that House Republicans will continue to protect the lives of the unborn and pursue legislation that values all life."

Oklahoma criminalized abortion in 1910. That law remains in effect (21 O.S. § 861).


OKLAHOMA CITY (March 21, 2023) - Governor Stitt issued the following statement criticizing the Oklahoma Supreme Court's 5-4 opinion released today: 

"I wholeheartedly disagree with this activist majority's opinion creating a right to an abortion in Oklahoma. Alarmingly, this activist majority acted out of hand by making a policy decision that belongs to the people. Chief Justice Kane said it best in his well-written dissent: 'This Court should adhere to the Constitution given to us, not craft what we believe to be a "better" Constitution. The power lies with the people.'"

"Furthermore, in their 20 page opinion, not once was there any mention of the unborn. From the moment life begins at conception, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to protect that baby's life and the life of the mother. That is what I believe and that is what the majority of Oklahomans believe which is why the Legislature has passed, and I have signed, numerous laws banning abortion in Oklahoma."


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