An Oklahoma legislator has proposed a new bill that would create a database of people seeking abortions in the state.
Senate Bill 1167, titled the “Every Mother Matter Acts,” or EMMA, was filed by State Senator George Burns earlier this month. The bill, as proposed, would create a government-run database for pregnant people looking into abortions in Oklahoma.
The bill noted that a “single toll-free telephone number” would be established for any person seeking an abortion to call. Those calling the number must accept a “pre-abortion resource access assistance offer” to then be connected with a “care agent,” but that person is legally not allowed to refer a patient to an abortion provider. The pregnant person would then be assigned a “unique identifying number” in the database, and abortion providers would be required to keep the information for seven years.
“The legislation is aimed at ensuring that any woman seeking an abortion is given access to resources and programs she may not realize are available,” Burns’ office said in a statement. Burns “said the goal is to give women the support they need to choose life, instead of abortion,” the statement said.
After being connected to a “care agent,” the person possibly seeking an abortion would instead be provided a no-cost “assessment of eligibility” and offer in obtaining support services such as “housing, employment, childcare, health care, counseling, adoption services, financial assistance and more.” Specifics surrounding the services, or how a person would qualify for such services, are not included in the bill.
Anyone who has worked as or for an abortion provider within the last two years is disqualified from becoming a care agent. Care agents are also required to undergo training to help identify human trafficking indicators and comply with state and federal privacy laws.
“My ultimate goal is ending abortion altogether, and that fight continues,” Burns said in the statement. “But we must also do all we can as a state to help present compassionate options for those faced with unexpected pregnancies that promote the preservation and dignity of life for mothers and their babies.”
Oklahoma House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, a Democrat who has been in the legislature for more than a decade, told The Huffington Post that “the bills get more and more extreme,” which she attributes, partly, to “the national landscape and the conservative majority on the Supreme Court.”
Kristin Ford, vice president of communications and research at NARAL Pro-Choice America, said Burns’ proposed legislation is “truly off the deep end,” Huff Post reported. “This bill is just so beyond the bounds of what any rational person would consider an appropriate role for politicians to play in people’s personal lives and family decisions,” Ford said.
Burns’ proposed bill comes as the Supreme Court reviews Roe vs. Wade the landmark case that protects a pregnant person’s right to choose to have an abortion. Lawmakers in at least 29 states have already filed antiabortion legislation in their 2022 legislative session that would limit abortion access, according to a previously reported story in The Washington Post.
Eleven anti-abortion bills were pre-filed before the legislative session began.