Oklahoma is fast becoming the battleground between incumbent pro-life republicans who have squandered their ability to abolish abortion in the state, and abolitionists primary challengers who are determined to oust them because of it.
This ideological conflict has been brewing for years. Last month we wrote about how the pro-life republican supermajority killed a bill designed to abolish abortion in Oklahoma, and the abolitionist reaction to it.
SB 13 was different from many of the incremental, nibble-around-the-edges pro-life bills passed by the Republicans over the last decade in that it was designed to have Oklahoma completely and decisively abolish abortion regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized the practice. Under the proposed legislation, Oklahoma would ignore that court ruling and defy the Supreme Court when they invariably interfered. The vast majority of senators said this is not something they were willing to do.
According to the bill’s author, Joseph Silk, “SB 13 is the only bill in the state right now that would actually provide equal protection to all unborn children.”
This action by the senate was a crushing blow for advocates who have been relentlessly seeking to have it heard over the last two years. In February, several thousand supporters showed up to the State Capitol for the Abolition Day Rally, an event designed to promote the bill and to demand its passage. On top of large crowds and sheer numbers of people who attended, the even was also notable for the speakers and ministries that participated; Free the States, AHA, Babies are Murdered Here, Operation Save America and Apologia Church’s End Abortion Now, and others- organizations that have historically been at odds with each other but which have reportedly reconciled and made peace for the sake of the mission.
Apart from the guests, the bill was supported by over 100 pastors from around the State who signed and delivered petitions calling for a fair hearing of SB13, as well as by the Oklahoma Baptists, Oklahoma Free Will Baptists, and Oklahoma Republican Party, all whom passed resolutions demanding SB13.
What is especially disheartening about the bill being tabled is the incongruity of it all. According to “Americans United for Life’s” 2016 annual “Life List” that ranks the most pro-life and pro-abortion states in the country, Oklahoma ranks #1.
In fact, Republicans have a supermajority in both the House and Senate in Oklahoma. Of the 48 seats in the state senate, 39 are held by Republicans and 9 by Democrats, meaning that over 80% of the senators are Republicans.
Furthermore, Oklahoma has a professing Republican pro-life Governor, a Republican pro-life Lieutenant Governor, a Republican pro-life President Pro Tem of the Senate, and a Republican pro-life majority floor leader. The vast majority of these senators campaigned as “pro-life” and vowed to do all they can to “protect life” in Oklahoma, with many promising to vote for the bill if the opportunity presented itself. Almost all attend Church and a couple of senators are even pastors.
The most pro-life state in America has supermajorities of professing pro-lifers who have no desire to pass a bill that will protect and stop the slaughter of the unborn. Given the power the Republicans possess, neither Democrats, nor the ACLU, nor secular humanists, nor atheists, nor pro-choice lobbyists could have stopped them if these pro-life politicians had the tes ticular fortitude to defy the Supreme Court.
But they are unwilling to do so.
After the defeat of this bill, lobbyist Russell Hunter of Free the States promised “We will be campaigning against them. We will be attempting to replace each and every legislator that said they will not hear Senate Bill 13.” It looks that has now happened.
According to the Oklahoman, abortion abolitionists are bringing intraparty challenges on a scale that we have never seen before.
At least 10 candidates who support abolishing abortion and ignoring court rulings to the contrary are vying for legislative seats. Most are seeking to unseat incumbent Republicans in primary challenges over ideological differences on abortion.
Out of the 23 republican senate seats up for re-election this year, 5 of them are being challenged by abortion abolitionists, with the others going towards house seats. A 25% primarying rate is a huge increase considering this was unthinkable just a few short years ago. We reached out to Free The States lobbyist James Silberman who said that 10 candidates were just the start, and that there are other potential ones in the wings.
In Oklahoma, the filing fees are $500 and 750$ respectively. Of all the declared candidates, the majority have never run for public office before.
Two abolitionists are seeking open seats. Christian Ford is one of several Republicans running in Senate District 28, which was previously occupied by Sen. Jason Smalley. Republican Eric Ensley is one of two candidates seeking the open House District 1 seat.
In Senate District 7, Warren Hamilton is challenging Sen. Larry Boggs, R-Wilburton, in the Republican primary.
Republican Kaity Keith is challenging Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan. Steven Cunningham is challenging Sen. Paul Rosino, R-Oklahoma City.
Angie Brinlee is challenging Rep. Randy Randleman, R-Eufaula, in House District 15. Shannon Rowell is challenging Jim Grego, R-Wilburton, in House District 17. Brenda Angel is one of two Republicans taking on Rep. David Smith, R-McAlester.
In House District 31, Karmin Grider is challenging Rep. Garry Mize, R-Edmond.