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Democrat tries to dunk on pro-life advocates with new bill. But he back-pedals after undermining the progressive agenda.

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Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images

Oklahoma state Rep. Forrest Bennett (D), who describes himself as a "pragmatic progressive," walked back a legislative proposal that attempted to corner pro-life advocates.

Instead, pro-life advocates and conservatives agreed with the premise of the proposed legislation, while progressives sharply criticized him.

What happened?

Bennett announced on Twitter that he had introduced HB3129 to codify that "a father’s financial responsibility to his baby & their mom begins at conception."

"If Oklahoma is going to restrict a woman’s right to choose, we sure better make sure the man involved can’t just walk away from his responsibility," Bennett declared.

The bill would make a father responsible for half of all pregnancy expenses.

"Except as otherwise provided in this section, the biological father of a child has a duty to pay fifty percent (50%) of the mother's pregnancy expenses," the bill declares.

Bennett introduced his bill as Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma pursue new abortion restrictions. One proposed bill mirrors the controversial Texas abortion bill, and would permit Oklahomans to sue doctors who perform abortions.

What was the reaction?

Bennett's proposal generated a strong reaction on social media, particularly among conservatives who agreed with him.

In fact, it was pointed out that Bennett's proposal undermines the progressive agenda by acknowledging that life begins at conception, biological men are men, and that "having a baby is a shared responsibility between a man and the woman who’s pregnant."

  • "I’m 100 percent for this. End abortion. Also, step up and take care of moms and kids," conservative writer David French said.
  • "Great idea. A child’s life begins at conception!" Texas state Rep. Briscoe Cain (R) said.
  • "Excellent work. If passed this would give legal status to the baby, recognizing it as a separate person. This would also give the father a legal say in the progress of the pregnancy and immediate parental rights. Outstanding pro-life legislation!" author Chad Felix Greene said.
  • "Sounds like a wonderful pro-life strategy," Christian professor Andrew Walker said.
  • "This is the way," Notre Dame professor Patrick Deneen said.
  • "Whenever people try to own the pro-life movement, they inadvertently end up making sound public policy, "Harvard Law School professor Adrian Vermeule said.
  • "You mean making moms AND dads be held accountable for the human being they created? Hell yeah, we need this in all 50 states!" conservative writer Tiana Lowe said.

How did Bennett respond?

On Saturday, Bennett began back-pedaling. Bennett said he would not move forward with the bill as it is written, and he issued an apology to pro-abortion advocates.

"Let me get this out of the way: obviously I’m not moving forward with this bill as written," Bennett said.

"I’ll own this: I should’ve been more thoughtful & thorough in crafting this bill in the first place. It’s clear there are many unintended consequences, both from the language & design," Bennett explained.

"I understand how the language in my message and bill both hurt the cause instead of helping it, and I apologize for not being more thoughtful," Bennett said.

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