OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Republican Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday vetoed legislation that would make it a felony for doctors to perform an abortion, a measure that would have effectively outlawed the procedure in the state.
In vetoing the measure, Fallin said it was vague and would not withstand a legal challenge.
The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm, said the measure was aimed at ultimately overturning the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
The bill would have made it a felony punishable by up to three years in prison for anyone who performs an abortion, including doctors. State law already makes it a felony for anyone who's not a doctor to perform an abortion, and Dahm's bill would have removed the exemption for physicians.
Lawmakers can still attempt a veto override, which requires a two-thirds majority in each chamber.
The bill, which abortion-rights group Center for Reproductive Rights said was the first of its kind in the nation, also would restrict any physician who performs an abortion from obtaining or renewing a license to practice medicine in Oklahoma. The Legislature passed the measure with no discussion or debate on Thursday.
Dahm said after its passage that he hoped his bill could lead to overturning Roe v. Wade.
"Since I believe life begins at conception, it should be protected, and I believe it's a core function of state government to defend that life from the beginning of conception," said Dahm, from Broken Arrow.
But abortion-rights supporters — and the state's medical association — have said the bill is unconstitutional. Sen. Ervin Yen, an Oklahoma City Republican and the only physician in the Senate, described the measure as "insane" and voted against it.