Health

An Oklahoma Lawmaker Used a Controversial Word to Describe Pregnant Women

February 13th 2017

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

An Oklahoma lawmaker who is expected to introduce legislation giving men control over their daughters' reproductive health also gave a controversial explanation for the bill; women are "hosts."

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma state legislature is expected to consider HB 1441, a bill that will require women to get permission from the father of a fetus before getting an abortion.

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In an article released Monday, the bill's author, Republican state Rep. Justin Humphrey, explained his outlook on abortion to the Intercept's Jordan Smith. He said that women are actually a "host," and that should have to get permission before aborting a fetus because they "invited that in."

“I believe one of the breakdowns in our society is that we have excluded the man out of all of these types of decisions. I understand that they feel like that is their body. I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship, you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that, then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant. So that’s where I’m at. I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. 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.”

The comments prompted strong backlash on Twitter.

Rep. Humphrey's office did not pick up the phone on the multiple times we attempted to contact them for this story.

Humphrey's HB 1441 comes after Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a law on Jan. 26 that will allow family members or husbands to sue an abortion provider if they give a woman an abortion without family consent.

ATTN: talked to James Owens, the state's communications director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights advocacy group, and he said that statements like Humphrey's come from an evangelical ideology about gender roles and men's rights.

"They're pushing this kind of natural family world view: one man one woman and the woman exists to be a vessel for childbirth," he said. "It's a traditionally biblical world view in a very strict sense, and out of that has come the idea that men have final say on everything in the family."

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Besides placing responsibility for sex and birth control squarely on the woman, Humphrey's comments ignore or overlook the fact that some women in Oklahoma struggle to get access to birth control.

Oklahoma denied Medicaid expansion for poor women that could have given an estimated 91,000 people federally subsidized coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and there is no mandate requiring emergency contraception to be made available in emergency rooms or pharmacies.

Owens said that state laws like Oklahoma's may become more popular under President Donald Trump's administration. Trump took anti-abortion positions during his campaign and Vice President Mike Pence championed restrictive abortion laws as governor of Indiana.

"We're starting to see state anti-choice legislation emboldened by Donald Trump," he said. "These are very troubling trends and I think they are unfortunately a preview of what's to come in this administration."

RELATED: Arkansas Passes Controversial Law on Abortion