Oklahoma bill would force women to get men's permission for abortion

An Oklahoma bill that would require women seeking an abortion to first get permission from the father has moved forward. The male Republican lawmaker who wrote the bill has described pregnant women as "hosts."

A Republican lawmaker in the U.S. state of Oklahoma gained approval on Tuesday for a bill that would require women to receive written consent from their sexual partner in order to obtain an abortion.

The state House Public Health Committee voted in favor of the bill by Oklahoma Rep. Justin Humphrey, despite Humphrey admitting that it might be unconstitutional.

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The measure will now move toward a full vote in the state's legislature, where it is likely to pass if granted a hearing.

The bill, formally known as HB 1441, states: "No abortion shall be performed in this state without the written informed consent of the father of the fetus."

Women would be required to provide the father's identity to their doctor in writing. Additionally, should the man contest that he is the father, he may demand that a paternity test be performed.

Humphrey did, however, put in a provision that if the woman's sexual partner is deceased, the woman will be allowed to have an abortion - provided that she signs a notarized affidavit saying that the man is dead.

The bill would provide exceptions in cases where the woman is the victim of incest or rape, or if the pregnancy poses a danger to her life.

Millions march for women's rights worldwide

Massive crowds for women's rights

Initial estimates suggest that at least 500,000 participants took to the streets in Washington, DC. March organizers said that the point of the protest was not only to show opposition to newly sworn-in President Trump, but as a general call for the rights of women and other minorities to be respected.

Millions march for women's rights worldwide


Brazilian protesters joined hands in the capital Brasilia. More than 600 solidarity events were held around the world, on every continent including Antarctica, where a group of scientists held their own small demonstration on a research vessel.

Millions march for women's rights worldwide

'Pussy hats'

A family at a march in Frankfurt wore the "pussy hats" that many march participants around the world had for the occassion. The hats were meant as a slight to misogynistic comments President Trump made in 2005 that surfaced during the election campaign.

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'Build kindness, not walls'

Many slogans at the protests had to do with President Trump's promise to build a wall on the border between the US and Mexico. At a protest in Kenyan capital of Nairobi, supporters demanded equality and tolerance.

Millions march for women's rights worldwide

Parisians against patriarchy

At least 2,000 people took part in the Paris march. Many demonstrators across Europe said they were not only protesting Trump, but the rise of the far-right across the continent as French elections loom in March.

Millions march for women's rights worldwide

Higher turnout than inauguration

Much has been made of the low turnout numbers at President Trump's inauguration. People took to social media to show empty subway trains in Washington on inauguration day, but transport officials in the US capital said Saturday was the fifth busiest day in the Metro's history.

Millions march for women's rights worldwide

Biggest protest in US history

Midtown Manhattan flooded with protestors by Saturday afternoon. With large demonstrations taking place in most major US cities, some academics were already predicting that it would be the largest protest in the country's history.

Millions march for women's rights worldwide

Mexicans on the move

Activists in Mexico City marched towards the US embassy. One of the first of Donald Trump's many campaign statements that sparked controversy was the allegations that most Mexican immigrants to the US were criminals.

'You're a host'

On Tuesday, Humphrey defended his use of the term "host" to describe pregnant women, saying that there was no other appropriate term for referring to a woman's womb.

"I think I used the proper verbiage. When I used the term host, it's not meant to degrade women," Humphrey said. "If there's better verbiage out there, I will gladly use better verbiage. I just couldn't find it."

In comments published on Monday by online publication "The Intercept," the lawmaker explained that the bill was intended to give men a say in the process of abortion.

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"I understand that they feel like this is their body," he said in the article referring to women. "I feel like it is a separate - what I call them is, is you're a 'host.'"

"But after you're irresponsible then don't claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you're the host and you invited that in."

Humphrey's comments have drawn censure from politicians and activists alike, including the organizers of the Women's March.

Tamya Cox, spokeswoman of Planned Parenthood of Great Plains, called Humphrey's comments unacceptable and inflammatory.

When asked by a reporter which term she would use instead of "host," Cox responded: "women."

Constitutional challenges

Cox also added that the U.S. Supreme Court previously ruled against requirements to notify the father in its 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey.

"Courts have said that states cannot create undue burdens and create unnecessary obstacles when it comes to a woman's right to access abortion," Cox said. "To waste taxpayer dollars on bills like this does not represent what's best for Oklahomans."

Oklahoma's bill is the latest in a series of far-reaching efforts to restrict abortion by Republican lawmakers emboldened by U.S. President Donald Trump's election, experts say.

Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, is known for his pro-life stance. Should he be confirmed, many fear that the constitutional right to abortion could be threatened as the court would then have a majority of conservative justices.

Abortion has been legal in the United States since 1973 but remains a divisive social and political issue.

rs/kl  (AP, Reuters)