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Behind the Scenes of the Oklahoma Abortion Ban

On Tuesday, April 5, Oklahoma lawmakers passed Senate Bill 612, which outlaws all abortions unless necessary to save the life of the mother. The bill was approved by the Oklahoma Senate on March 10, 2021, and passed in the House on Tuesday with a 70-14 vote. The bill now moves on to be approved by Gov. Kevin Stitt, who has previously promised to sign any bill limiting abortion. If signed into law, people performing illegal abortions will be sentenced to 10 years in prison or be charged $100,000 in fines. The Oklahoma Senate Bill 612 will be the strictest abortion law in the country.

Rep. Jim Olsen, a sponsor of the bill, agreed to an interview with The Talon to discuss Senate Bill 612. 

Olsen discussed the basis of the abortion argument. 

“The core issue is ‘is that just a hunk of flesh or wad of cells or is it a human life?’ If it’s just a wad of cells then people like me, people like Sen. Dahm—we’re way off base; we’re getting involved in something that’s really none of our business,” Olsen said. “But if it’s a human life, you can debate among liberals and conservatives, what should the government be involved in? Constitutionally and biblically, not much. But one thing everybody ought to agree on is that the most important function of government is to protect innocent life.” 

Could you walk me through your day April 5?

“I got up pretty early, spent some time in the Bible and in prayer. Then I worked out. I came here (the Oklahoma State Capitol), and there’s a good godly representative who has a Tuesday morning prayer meeting. After the prayer meeting the session started.

Once I took my name I slipped out and made a couple quick phone calls then came back. I was ready, I had my cup full of ice, I had my gatorade. I was ready for 2 hours. How it works is: you introduce the bill, you say ‘I move for adoption and yield for questions.’ Typically in the past it’s about two hours. Picture yourself accused of a severe crime and the prosecutor is hostile and he’s grilling you for two hours; usually that’s what it’s like. I was ready for it, but nobody asked questions, there was no debate. We voted, 70-14. It passed wonderfully. I was thrilled, I was thankful. By 10 o’clock we were done.”  

Considering prior opposition to the bill, how do you explain the lack of questions on the floor?

“I know we had a lot of people praying. Maybe the Lord got into it. Some people said it was because Planned Parenthood was demonstrating that same day. To me that’s not credible. When you have pertinent legislation to the center core of what you’re interested in, as a legislator you want to be on the floor. You want to be willing to question and debate, at the very least to listen to what’s going on and advocate for your side, so that explanation doesn’t make sense to me. It was totally amazing, although really I felt like I was ready for the debate.” 

What is your plan moving forward assuming Gov. Stitt signs the bill?

“I think he’ll sign it. Hopefully the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade. If the Supreme Court goes the wrong way, I don’t know the answer to that. It’s kind of back to the drawing board; what can we do? My intention if it goes the wrong way is hopefully I’ll be able to get the Speaker of the House into a meeting with our attorney general.” 

Is there anything you would like to tell students at Oklahoma Christian University?

“I’ll tell you what I tell people who ask, ‘what are the main things that if you’re gonna pray for legislators or if you’re gonna pray for things that legislators need to have?’ It’s two things.

 One is biblical convictions. There’s a shortage of people with truly biblical convictions. Their convictions must be anchored in the Bible. They must believe that’s our final authority and that our convictions must come from there, because if we don’t have a Bible to refer to, what do you have? You have no anchor. You have no truth. Number two—politicians need it but people in general need it—we need the courage to stand for those convictions.” 

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