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Oklahoma house spokesman invokes little-known hand-out rule for materials


Gazette staff March 22nd, 2007

Yep. If you are visiting legislators with something written in hand, Oklahoma's state House Republicans might want a look at it first.   According to The Associated Press, a former state represe...

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Yep. If you are visiting legislators with something written in hand, Oklahoma's state House Republicans might want a look at it first.
 
According to The Associated Press, a former state representative campaigning for abortion rights was detained for passing out a decades-old picture of a woman who died during a "back alley" abortion.
 
The former rep, Wanda Jo Peltier Stapleton, said she and two friends were stopped in a Capitol hallway by representatives of the House sergeant-at-arms office as they were distributing the one-page leaflet to lawmakers' offices, according to the story.
 
"I was stopped from passing it out," said Stapleton, of Oklahoma City. "I told them I would go to jail before I stopped."
 
According to the story, the leaflet states "Abortion Should Be Prevented, Not Punished" and contains a graphic photograph of a woman who died during an illegal abortion before the procedure was legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973.
 
Damon Gardenire, a House spokesman, said the body requires that literature intended for lawmakers first be filed with the House post office to ensure it's not obscene, pornographic or a solicitation.
 
"She's perfectly capable of having those materials distributed if she chooses to do so," Gardenhire said of Stapleton. "Everything should go through the post office."
 
First we've heard of it here at Chicken-Fried News. Is that rule enforced on every report, flier, letter, note, missive or other written material passed to a legislator?
 
"Some years ago I was told that that wasn't necessary as long as the material was clearly identified by the name, address and phone number of the person distributing it," said Tony Lauinger, chairman of Oklahomans for Life, an anti-abortion group.
 
Lauinger said he did not know about the post office rule although his group and others regularly distribute material opposing abortion at the Capitol.

 
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