It’s a perfect storm for Mary Fallin, Oklahoma’s Governor and long-time pro-life advocate. On her desk was a bill that would make her state the most pro-life in the nation. All she had to do was sign it. Instead, she vetoed it, blaming vagueness about provisions accepting “risk to the mother’s life.”
That may be true. Then again, it may be the best possible play to move her to the top of Donald Trump’s Vice President list.
The veto came as a shock because Fallin has been one of the most outspoken opponents of abortion among Governors. If we see her sign a bill in the future with similar restrictions but more concrete details about what a doctor can construe as “life-threatening,” then we’ll take her at her word. The hope of many pro-lifers was that the bill would pass, get challenged, and find its way through the system to land on desks at the Supreme Court. This could potentially open the window for a challenge of Roe v. Wade. That’s definitely what State Senator Nathan Dahm, the author of the bill, had hoped.
If this is a way to rally moderates and “common sense abortion restrictions” supporters, it could work. Vetoing the bill but remaining solidly pro-life demonstrates a conservative pragmatism that could play well for Trump. She’s a woman, of course, which Trump could perceive as a plus. Moreover, she’s a champion to the Christian right. Whether or not this veto can be spun in a way that helps her maintain her credibility is up for debate, but it’s almost certainly more aligned with what Trump would do in the same situation.
Trump, once “very pro-choice,” has become moderately pro-life by opposing abortion but allowing exceptions for the mother’s life, rape, or incest.
Many publications such as The Hill expected her to sign the bill in order to move up on Trump’s list, but it’s more likely that this move better positions her for that role. One might even toss up a conspiracy theory that Trump was involved in the decision but there’s no indication of that.
We’ll know soon enough whether Fallin’s veto is for protecting the long-term possibility of anti-abortion legislation or if raising her hand to be picked as running mate. Either way, this is a short-term setback for the pro-life movement.