The Norman Transcript

Opinion

March 31, 2013

State public health committee not open to civil discourse

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

An article appeared in an area newspaper regarding the indecorous behavior of members of the Oklahoma Senate and the House (Daily Oklahoman, March 18, 2013, page 6A). The article suggests that it is mostly Democratic Party members who are the cause of this disrespectful behavior.

However, I wrote a letter recently to Speaker of the House T. W. Shannon about an experience I had at the state Capitol that suggests the Republican Party may have some serious misbehaviors of its own to be concerned about. Here follows my letter to Speaker Shannon.

As a citizen-lobbyist for women’s reproductive justice, I have spent many days at the Oklahoma Capitol, encouraging legislators to remember all of the women in this state and their right to be considered and heard on any issues that directly affect them.

I have generally been pleased with the treatment I have received from the legislators and their assistants. It is clear to me that they have received training in how to respond kindly to all visitors.

While at the Capitol recently for Women’s Health Day, I was visiting all the legislators who are on the public health committee.

My trip to the Capitol suddenly turned ugly when I visited the office of the representative from Broken Arrow, Mike Ritze (Republican).

Immediately after introducing myself and offering my hand, I told him I was there to speak with him about the bills concerning women’s reproductive justice issues. His immediate and only words to me were, “Baby killing, you mean!” He turned his back on me walked into his office, and closed the door.

At a public health committee meeting I attended a few weeks ago, I heard Rep. Ritze call the members of the committee who disagreed with him, “Baby killers!” and thought that remark was uncalled for.

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