OKLAHOMA CITY - One week into the 2020 legislative session, we have already had two attacks on the medical community by the state government.
Gov. Kevin Stitt went to Washington, D.C., to get told what this state needs to do as a new experiment on Medicaid expansion by a yet-to-be-determined plan so as to circumvent the voters deciding what they want when they vote on State Question 802. Our state has the second worst percentage of uninsured citizens. This places huge financial burdens on our hospitals and doctors. Unlike the 39 states that have already done well under straight-up Medicaid expansion (which is what SQ 802 would do), our Governor thinks we need to be the guinea pig to test this yet-to-be-determined plan. The second attack is that the House of Representatives approved House Bill 1182. This is another abortion bill that says, “Doctor, if you are thinking about coming to Oklahoma, we don’t want you. Doctor, if you are already here, we want you to go away. We want to take away your livelihood and send you to prison if you come here or stay here.” Don’t get me wrong, I am pro-life, and the landmark case of Roe v. Wade makes no legal sense to me. But this is not the legislation with which to attack that, and I refuse to vote for any alleged pro-life bill that attacks the medical community.
We have three communities in Oklahoma that have among the shortest life expectancies, worse than most Third World countries. This is due, in part, to a shortage of doctors in this state, particularly in rural areas. I fully understand the argument that allegedly there are only 10 doctors in the state who perform abortions. But the anti-doctor attitude shown by this bill is bigger than those 10. I recall a similar bill a few years ago. That year there were only six residents (doctors in training) in this state who were learning to deal with high-risk pregnancies. Two had already decided that due to the general anti-medical attitude of our state they were going to leave Oklahoma to practice elsewhere. When that bill was passed by the Legislature, the other four all decided to take their talents elsewhere. What happens if we run off doctors who take care of high-risk pregnancies? Mothers die and babies die. Why don’t we spend our time, efforts and your tax dollars on policies and resources to help prevent unwanted pregnancies instead of passing unconstitutional legislation? Or when they do occur, offer help to encourage taking the pregnancy to full term and adoption, instead of punishing the woman or doctor? That is the most pro-life position we can take unless and until Roe v. Wade is reversed. Rep. Ben Loring is a Democrat from Miami and a Boy Scout leader. Previously he was a district attorney and an assistant district attorney in Ottawa County.