Muskogee citizens, officials react to SCOTUS decision

·4 min read

Jun. 25—Area residents reacted to the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade with varied emotions, including gladness, concern and a call for respect.

In a statement to the Phoenix, Muskogee Mayor Marlon Coleman, asked that citizens respect others' beliefs.

"The United States Supreme Court has spoken and Roe v. Wade has been overturned, being one of the most consequential Supreme Court decisions in decades," he said. "My prayer is that communities across our country will not implode under the political divide certain to follow with this ruling. Americans are entitled to their respective beliefs systems under the greatest democracy in the world, but let us remember not to express those beliefs in a way that suppresses the rights to freedom of speech from those opposite our own ideologies."

State Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, said he's glad to see the 1973 decision on abortion overturned.

"Now that the legislation's been overturned, it comes back to the purview of the states and Oklahoma will not be a haven for abortions," he said. "It will be a total pro-life state."

Bonnie Pierce, a retired executive nurse, said she is not surprised by the decision, "but deeply, deeply concerned about what this means

for women's health and families."

"For a woman to truly and fully be a citizen and respected as an adult, she needs autonomy over her body," she said. "We know in Oklahoma, there are several laws that have been passed that we don't even know which one is going to take effect."

Pierce said she has many concerns about the decision. She said 10-20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage.

"The technical, medical term for it is an abortion," she said. "These women have no control over that. I have deep concern about how they will be treated, and will women not seek the medical care that they need and end up with infection, loss of blood and even loss of life because the law is too invasive."

Pemberton said he does not see miscarriages being a concern under Oklahoma's abortion restrictions.

"We're talking about strictly abortion services that would not be allowed in the state of Oklahoma," Pemberton said. He said recent legislation allows limited exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

Ben Robinson, a former state senator, described abortion as a complicated matter, and said lawmakers should give thought when addressing the issue.

"Unfortunately, I grew up in a state where you had to drive 1,000 miles to get a legal abortion or 100 miles to get an illegal one," he said. "No one is in favor of abortions, but the health and safety of the mother and the knowledge of the physician should prevail. My Senate record will reflect many things I was supportive of for women and children."

A new Oklahoma law, HB 4327, bans abortions from the point of fertilization, with limited exceptions. Under the new law, any person can bring civil action against anyone who performs or induces an abortion, or helps with an abortion.

Pierce said "the vigilante aspect of that law is extremely problematic."

"Our court system already is dealing with many issues and is behind in this area," she said. "Just throwing additional cases, real or imagined, at the court system is not going to help anybody. It is problematic and will not help women get the help they need."

U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who is retiring in January, praised the decision to overturn the 1973 ruling in a press release.

"I am overjoyed to hear that the Supreme Court has announced its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade (Friday)," Inhofe said. "For almost 50 years, our nation has wrongly operated under the tragic belief that there is a constitutional 'right' to end the lives of those who cannot speak for themselves. The Court has now rightfully declared that Roe was wrong from the start, and we can begin to chart a new course on the journey to protect life."

Guy Parrish, pastor of LifePoint Church said Friday's decision is "wonderful news."

"I believe live begins at conception and the most innocent human beings — Americans —are those in the womb," Parrish said, calling abortion murder.

"I do believe those who are rejecting the decision don't really understand the Constitution," he said. "All they did at the Supreme Court was to put it back to the states, which the Constitution said should pass the laws. That's all that happened, it's not like they abolished it, which I wouldn't be against. They made a Constitutional judgment that it's the state's responsibility."

The Rev. David Konderla, Bishop of the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma called the decision "a momentous day to thank God for the gift of human life, and for helping us correct the errors that were made in the Roe v. Wade decision."

According to a media release, Konderla said the Catholic diocese must continue and even increase efforts "to help mothers with all they need to care for their babies."