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Oklahoma Medical Association to continue political push through lobby for abortion exceptions

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The Oklahoma State Medical Association says it will push during the next legislative session for exceptions to Oklahoma’s strict abortion laws.

Pat Hall, long-time lobbyist for the trade group representing physicians, says OSMA plans to approach friendly state legislators about including exceptions around rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

“We’re going to ask the leadership of the House and the Senate. We’re going to ask them to go back in, have a bill that carves out exemptions. I think they’ve heard from the public. They’ve certainly heard from the national narrative. It’s time for them to come back in, review that cruel bill they passed, reevaluate it, come back in and fix their mistakes. It happens all the time. They get in a hurry, they pass a bill, they come back the next year and tweak it,” said Hall.

Hall said aside from the cruelty, there’s concern in the medical field that Oklahoma’s restrictions will push obstetricians out of the state.

“If you continue to lose OBs at the rate we’re going to be losing them, where will Oklahoma be? How are you going to recruit business to this state if there are no doctors to deliver babies?”

The efforts for 2023 will follow what Hall calls an unprecedented midterm push by OSMA to get “Reagan Republicans” elected. The group spent $3 million supporting designated "pro-science" candidates, and Hall said it was successful in helping to get 51 out of 55 preferred candidates into office.

Hall said a big win was the reelection of state Rep. Rhonda Baker, chair of the House common education committee. A loss was the defeat of Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister by incumbent Gov. Kevin Stitt for Oklahoma’s governorship.

“It was not a big risk for OSMA to support Superintendent Hofmeister. People inside the Capitol already had an understanding that we — medical doctors, along with our Native American tribes and educators — were three groups that the Stitt administration had pointed out, that we were almost persona non grata.”

Despite any setbacks, Hall said OSMA will continue to be involved politically in a number of matters, including advocating for "patient-centered" changes to Stitt’s Medicaid managed care plan that features heavy involvement from insurance companies. OSMA also plans to keep challenging politicians who defy education.

“The entire house of medicine is going to be on offense, not defense. We’re going to go after these anti-science people,” said Hall.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher
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