I attended the committee meeting on HB 1595, the Statistical Reporting on Abortion bill. This bill would require doctors to ask a series of invasive questions that would then be uploaded to the Internet. This bill also prevents gender-selection abortion. This is not an issue in the United States and 90 percent of abortions that do occur happen within 12 weeks of pregnancy. Fourteen to sixteen weeks into the pregnancy is typically the amount of time before gender is decided. Only four percent of Oklahoma abortions occur at or after week 16. However, the data does not show if these abortions are due to women’s health risks or fetus anomaly.

But while the abortion issue is an important topic, I am concerned that the legislature continually politicizes the topic and doesn’t get to the real issue. All sides want to reduce the number of abortions; all sides want to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. But the politics of the “choice vs. anti-choice” issue overshadows this. It is time both sides come together, divorce the emotion, and have meaningful dialogue.

We first need to decide how to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. I believe it is through a comprehensive sex education. I believe it is through easier access to contraceptives. But, I’m not arrogant enough to believe that I know all the answers, so I invite the other side to share their theories with me. I was outraged with the comments by some of the senators who either were misinformed about the true nature of this bill or indifferent to the realities of it. Both sides take this issue seriously, and the politics that were played in that committee meeting let me know politics will always trump reform.

Both sides need to talk together about how we can address policy-makers and demand that they hear what we have to say about the true issue in decreasing unintended pregnancies. It is possible for two sides of an issue to come together and it not result in mayhem, and that is what I am hoping to accomplish soon.

So, this is my open invitation to the other side of the abortion issue to meet me at the table – not the fanatic who will be unable to separate the abortion issue from the issue at hand, not the individual who will be unable to understand why both sides need to work together, and especially not the person who will be unable to help develop solutions. I want the person who believes that we need to take back the legislature and is interested in finding solutions to our increasing problem. I am seriously interested in meeting.

Will you pull up a seat at the table, or will I be dining alone?

CONTACT: tcox@acluok.org or (405) 524-8511

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