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Lawmakers mull veto override for bill criminalizing abortion

FILE - In this March 10, 2016 file photo, Sandy Springer, of Edmond, Okla., stands with other members of Bound 4 Life, an anti-abortion group, at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma House has passed legislation that requires the state Department of Health to develop informational material "for the purpose of achieving an abortion-free society," but lawmakers didn't approve any funding for it. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

Oklahoma lawmakers plan to meet with Governor Fallin while planning on whether or not to attempt to override her veto on a controversial abortion bill that would make abortion a felony.

"We have been in communication with the Governor's office trying to address her concerns," said Nathan Dahm, the author of the bill.

Fallin vetoed the bill, calling the bill vague and said it would not withstand a constitutional challenge.

"The bill is so ambiguous and so vague that doctors cannot be certain what medical circumstances would be considered 'necessary to preserve the life of the mother,'" Gov. Fallin said in her veto message.

Related: Oklahoma Gov. Fallin vetoes anti-abortion bill, calls it 'unconstitutional'

"With [SB] 1552 being enacted, we could've saved more lives," Dahm said, in reference to the planned opening of an abortion clinic in the state. Dahm contends that if the Governor would've signed the bill, the clinic wouldn't have opened.

"With that veto, it will expand abortion in Oklahoma," Dahm said.

FOX 25 spoke with Trust Women, the reproductive health group bringing an abortion clinic to Oklahoma City, over the phone.

"We see the light at the end of the tunnel," CEO Julie Burkhart said. "We'll be putting in a lot of time at the clinic, a lot of elbow grease and we'll be opening our doors soon."

Those doors are expected to open early this summer. As for where, the clinic is keeping that information private right now. It'll be the first abortion clinic to open in the state of Oklahoma in more than 40 years. There are also clinics in Norman and Tulsa.

According to Trust Women, there's only one OB-GYN doctor for every 18,000 women in the state of Oklahoma, the second worst in the country.

"If women don't have full options when it comes to OB-GYN health care, it's challenging for them to fully participate in society," Burkhart said.

Burkhart told FOX 25, if there's a veto override, they may have to pause construction. However, it won't stop their plan. If that happens, they could pursue legal action, challenging the constitutionality of [SB] 1552, said Burkhart.

Dahm, flanked by about a dozen Republican lawmakers, said the criticism over the bill is unfounded, saying they are multitasking: both working on the budget and important details of the bill he feels should be law.

Damn said the purpose of the bill was not to criminalize abortion, but to cause doctors to lose their license if they performed an abortion. He contends that it is currently a felony, according to Oklahoma statute.

Any veto override would take a two-thirds vote in both the Oklahoma House and Senate. Dahm told FOX 25, they can accomplish that action in a matter of minutes, but it would have to hit the senate floor by Friday.

Related: Law criminalizing abortions in Oklahoma on its way to Gov. Fallin


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