Riley's pro-life reversal

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As you've heard by now, SB 714, which would have gotten Oklahoma taxpayers out of the abortion business, was vetoed by Gov. Brad Henry. Although the bill passed with a veto-proof majority in both houses, it was close enough that the defection of one senator, Shawnee Democrat Charlie Laster (405-521-5539), was enough to cause the override attempt to fail. Tulsa Republican Sen. James Williamson promises to try again, as is possible under the Legislature's rules, so it is still worthwhile to call state senators to thank them for their vote for SB 714 or to ask them to change and support overriding the Governor's veto.

There were three other Democrats in the Senate who voted for SB 714 in committee before voting against it last week and again during the override vote. They are:

Nancy Riley (Tulsa), 405-521-5600
Joe Sweeden (Pawhuska), 405-521-5581
Charles Wyrick (Fairland, Miami, Grove), 405-521-5561

Nancy Riley represents western Tulsa County and was elected as a Republican in 2000 (by a narrow margin) and 2004 (by a two-thirds) vote. In 2006, after finishing third in the Republican Lt. Governor's primary behind two very well-funded candidates, she crossed the aisle and became a Democrat. (My disappointment with that decision was as much personal as political.)

Not only has she changed parties, apparently she has changed sides on the issue of public funding for abortion. Brandon Dutcher has unearthed a flyer from Nancy Riley's first run for State Senate in 2000, in which she proclaims her pro-life bona fides. He notes that there are only five words in the piece that she deems important enough for ALL CAPS:

I will also fight for:

** Tough parental consent laws;

** Enforcement of a mandatory “cooling off” period before anyone can receive an abortion;

** And, absolutely NO STATE FUNDING FOR ABORTION.

You can read the whole thing at Brandon Dutcher's blog. According to this piece of campaign literature, this issue was not just one among many to her, but was "one of the reasons why [she] decided to run for the State Senate."

With a margin of only 265 votes, and given the socially conservative makeup of her district, I have to believe that she would have lost the seat had she not taken a strong, uncompromising pro-life stance.

I said last year that the honorable course for Sen. Riley was to follow in Phil Gramm's footsteps and resign her seat, then run again as a Democrat and let the voters decide whether having her as a state senator is more or less important to them than being represented by a Republican.

That's not likely to happen, but at the very least, she can keep the promise she made to the voters: "NO STATE FUNDING FOR ABORTION."

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 26, 2007 10:30 PM.

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