Oklahoma Gov. Fallin vetoes bill turning abortion procedures into a felony
(Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin/Flickr)

Oklahoma's Republican Governor Mary Fallin on Friday vetoed a bill that called for prison terms of up the three years for doctors who performed abortions, saying the legislation "would not withstand a criminal constitutional legal challenge."

The bill, which was approved a day earlier in the Republican-dominated legislature, would have made performing an abortion a felony and also called for revoking the licenses of any doctor who conducted one.

The bill allowed an exemption for an abortion necessary to save the life of the mother.

“The bill is so ambiguous and so vague that doctors cannot be certain what medical circumstances would be considered ‘necessary to preserve the life of the mother,’” Fallin said, in a statement from her office, where she was described as "the most pro-life governor in the nation."

Abortion rights groups had promised a bruising legal battle if the bill were signed into law, which would have hit the state with an expensive legal battle. Cash-strapped Oklahoma is battling a $1.3 billion budget hole.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas and Heide Brandes in Oklahoma City; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)