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Successful state strategies saving babies

"Successful state strategies saving babies" Continued...

It frustrated Lauinger because he knew many of those lawmakers did not reflect the views of the voters he was meeting across the state. Oklahoma was becoming a socially conservative, pro-life state stuck with an entrenched pro-abortion state government. (Not a single Oklahoma county went for Barak Obama in 2008 or 2012.) Lauinger prayed about a day he could work alongside allies instead of fighting adversaries.

The answered prayer came in the 1990s in the form of term limits. With lawmakers now limited to 12 years in office, voters were able to ferret out entrenched politicians who no longer represented their districts. When Oklahoma voters decided that the views of national leaders in the Democratic Party did not line up with the positions of most state residents, Oklahoma Democrats suffered.

In 2004, the Oklahoma House went Republican. In 2006, there was a 24-24 tie in the Oklahoma Senate. Then in 2008, the Republicans took over the Senate. The state had a pro-life majority inside the capitol and pro-life bills began to make it to the governor’s desk.

Oklahoma City has had a pro-life majority for the last four years. With three-fourths of the Senate now pro-life, pro-lifers have enough votes to override a governor’s veto.

“We survived so many years in the wilderness,” Lauinger says.

Oklahoma passed bills protecting babies in the womb who are capable of feeling pain, prohibiting taxpayer funding of abortion, and restricting abortion at public facilities. Pro-life lawmakers in Oklahoma fought to protect pro-life physicians from legal action against them for refusing to abort babies with diseases and disabilities. Such “wrongful birth” lawsuits are becoming more common.

When the state’s highest court, where eight of the nine members were appointed by Democrats, stuck down the state’s 2008 ultrasound viewing bill, the legislature revised it in 2010 so it would pass the court’s requirements.

“What you’ve seen is a pent-up frustration by people in Oklahoma,” said Brian Crain, who calls himself a recent foot solider in Oklahoma’s pro-life movement. A state senator, Crain would not have been elected without term limits. “My predecessor had been there for 24 years and would have served until he passed away.”

Now Crain, who has two daughters, is the chairman of the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over bills dealing with abortion. After Crain helped pass the bill protecting pro-life doctors from wrongful birth lawsuits, he successfully helped override the governor’s veto.

Lauinger now chuckles at the thought of having a pro-life ally who oversees that key committee. Not too long ago, the committee was a graveyard for any pro-life bills. Its then pro-choice chairman exercised a one-man veto when it came to abortion regulations. Now Lauinger meets Crain at places like the Panera Bread in Tulsa to map out pro-life strategy.

Lauinger’s prayers for allies have brought more than just Crain. Pam Peterson’s route to lawmaking began when she was a stay-at-home mom in Madison, Wis. Politics in that left-leaning state got Peterson so angry she’d fire off letters to the local newspaper.  But when Beverly LaHaye, the founder of Concerned Women for America, pleaded for local activism during an appearance at Peterson’s church, Peterson decided she could either remain upset or get involved.

“Christians have to stand up,” said Peterson, who graduated from Oral Roberts University and eventually moved back to Tulsa, Okla. She ran for office, pledging to bring pro-life bills to the floor and now manages the flow of legislation in the Oklahoma House. “We can’t sit behind the lines and complain.”

Lauinger, who has spent two decades making the trip back and forth from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, says it is wonderful to find himself among friends. He rarely gets kicked out of offices now.

Why did Lauinger continue to drive 90 minutes, four days a week to the legislature only to chase down lawmakers he knew would turn down his pro-life bills? Lauinger served on a Navy patrol gunboat in Vietnam where he learned the importance of “showing the flag” to keep the peace. By being at the state capitol whenever it was in session, Lauinger was waving the pro-life flag so lawmakers wouldn’t forget about the abortion issue.

Ultimately, the pro-life movement must look towards establishing federal laws. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced legislation last fall, called the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which bans abortions at 20 weeks into a pregnancy (with exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger or in cases of rape and incest). The House passed similar legislation last year. But this is just the beginning of the pain-capable debate in Washington. Reacting to the Graham’s Senate bill, a pro-abortion group sent an email alert to its supporters saying the “anti-women GOP” was “gearing up” to stop abortions “after just 20 weeks.”

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