- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

Tulsa World. Jan. 30, 2017.

President Donald Trump has resumed progress on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.

Good.

The world economy needs petroleum.

The U.S. needs the jobs that will be created by the pipeline.

And, although the environmental extremists who got the Obama administration to dither over the issue for years will never admit it, pipelines are a safer way to move oil and natural gas than the alternatives.

Blocking the pipeline wasn’t going to stop the oil if there was a market for it. It just meant it would be transported in rail cars and trucks.

We have some sympathy for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has objected to the pipeline; but it’s worth pointing out that the proposed path goes around the tribal reservation and all of the affected landowners have reportedly signed agreements to allow the project to go through.

We have less sympathy for the environmental lobbies fighting the pipeline under the assumption that the world has to be forced to stop using fossil fuels. That conveniently ignores the fact that if energy-hungry China doesn’t get access to Canadian oil (through a pipeline built by American workers), it would just use more Mongolian coal. The big difference there is the part involving the American workers.

Opponents have promised litigation to string out the process (and not coincidentally allow the lobbying groups involved to raise more money through frothy email blasts).

That’s a shame. Anyone who recognizes the undeniable truth that the world economy is not going to soon be leaving petroleum behind should see that the pipeline proposal is safer for people and the environment and good for the U.S. economy.

___

The Oklahoman. Jan. 30, 2017.

As the only physician in the Oklahoma Senate, Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, has typically been at the forefront of legislative discussion of medical issues, and we’ve often supported his efforts. But one bill filed by Yen, which would reduce women’s medical choices regarding childbirth, is an overreach.

Under Senate Bill 747, it would become illegal for certified nurse-midwives, who are licensed and regulated by the state Board of Nursing, to assist in a home birth if a woman has previously had a cesarean section.

Yen said the bill was prompted by a November case where a VBAC (“Vaginal Birth After Cesarean”) was attempted at a mother’s home. Complications ensued and the child ultimately died.

That’s a tragedy, but also atypical. And women who choose to do home births do so knowing the risks. Furthermore, there are good reasons for women to still pursue a home delivery even under those circumstances.

For one thing, many medical providers won’t participate in VBACs under any circumstances. While VBACs are generally safe, there is a slight chance of uterine rupture. Citing American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists research, the website of the American Pregnancy Association notes the risk of uterine rupture in a vaginal delivery is 0.2 percent to 1.5 percent for women who had a previous cesarean with a low transverse incision.

Thus, the overwhelming majority of women who pursue a VBAC don’t experience uterine rupture. However, the associated liability insurance cost when uterine ruptures do occur leads many doctors to forgo VBACs altogether; they instead endorse repeat cesareans.

That’s a problem for women because the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says VBACs are ultimately safer than repeat cesareans. Women who plan to have more than two children, in particular, face higher risks from undergoing a third or fourth cesarean.

So there are medical reasons for women to want a VBAC, but the availability of doctors and facilities providing the procedure is limited. Also, natural childbirth has grown in popularity in recent years, which has increased the desire of some women to have a VBAC in their home.

The use of a licensed midwife in that process allows Oklahoma women to pursue home deliveries while also having someone on hand with medical training. In instances where serious complications arise, a midwife can ensure a mother is swiftly taken to a hospital.

Even if SB 747 becomes law, Yen notes women can still have VBACs at home; it would only be illegal for a licensed midwife to participate. Yet that could result in women having less medical expertise on hand, not more.

We have supported Yen’s efforts to require that children attending public school be vaccinated, because an unvaccinated child can put young children or elderly adults from other families at risk for disease. That’s not true of SB 747. The risks associated with a home VBAC are borne entirely by a woman and her immediate family. Furthermore, the potential loss of a baby’s life is not eradicated even when delivery occurs in a hospital.

We don’t doubt Yen’s intentions, but this is a case where increased state regulation not only reduces patient choice, but may result in more harm than good.

___

The Journal Record. Jan. 30, 2017.

Oklahoma in January agreed to put off enforcing a recently enacted law that would restrict which arts and crafts items may be marketed as American Indian-made.

The stipulated agreement came as part of a federal case filed in November by photographer Peggy Fontenot. Pacific Legal Foundation, the California-based civil rights firm that is representing Fontenot, claimed in a press release that, “she is harmed by the law because she belongs to a state-recognized tribe - the Patawomecks, a historic tribe that is one of 11 recognized by Virginia.”

Under the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act, arts and crafts may be marketed as American Indian-made only if the artist is a member of a state or federally recognized tribe. Oklahoma’s recent revision to the state law further restricts the labeling of such goods to members of only federally recognized tribes. The revision was supported by the Tahlequah-based Cherokee Nation and other federally recognized tribes based in Oklahoma.

In most law, a more local jurisdiction may pass laws that are more restrictive than those of the larger jurisdiction, but may not pass less-restrictive laws. With a few exceptions, cities may pass ordinances that are more restrictive than the state law and states may pass more restrictive versions of federal laws.

Fontenot’s attorneys ignored that principle when they issued a statement suggesting Oklahoma lawmakers did something wrong by making the state law more restrictive than its federal counterpart.

“. it contradicts the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which defines “Indian” artists to include artisans who are members of either state- or federally recognized tribes, or who are certified by tribes,” PLF said in a press release.

Clearly, the law is intended to prevent false marketing and to promote genuine Native art. The Navajo Nation in December settled a 2012 lawsuit against Urban Outfitters, which had been marketing clothing, jewelry and accessories as “Navajo,” since 2001. Among the items offered by the retailer were the “Navajo hipster panty,” the “Peace Treaty feather necklace” and the “Navajo print flask.”

PLF would have the public believe that Oklahoma is unjustly restricting the ability of artists such as their client to sell their work. In reality, Oklahoma is trying to more fully protect the brand and credibility of all artwork produced by Native Americans.

For now, the federal rules apply in Oklahoma, which is as it should be until the civil rights question has been adjudicated.

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