Oklahoma is now the state with essentially the most restrictive abortion laws within the country after Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed a complete abortion ban on Wednesday.
“I promised Oklahomans that as governor I’d sign each piece of pro-life laws that got here across my desk and I’m proud to maintain that promise today,” Stitt said in an announcement.
The bill, H.B. 4327, bans abortion at fertilization and has the identical enforcement mechanism as Texas’ six-week abortion ban that went into effect last fall. The law defines an unborn child as “a human fetus or embryo in any stage of gestation from fertilization until birth” and went into effect immediately after signing.
The enforcement mechanism deputizes any private citizen — even in the event that they’re not in Oklahoma — to implement the law by offering a bounty to anyone who successfully sues someone aiding or abetting an individual looking for an abortion. The Texas-style enforcement mechanism ensures that the Oklahoma ban will likely successfully skirt any future court challenges, or at the very least stay in place until the Supreme Court can overturn Roe v. Wade in the approaching weeks.
The law has exceptions when the pregnant person’s life is in danger, and in cases of rape or incest. The 2 latter exceptions can only be used if those crimes are reported to police, and each crimes are widely underreported.
“Today’s news from the Oklahoma legislature comes amidst a slew of anti-abortion bans and restrictions across the country. But this just isn’t another ban, it just isn’t one other ban ― this can be a first,” Emily Wales, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said on a press call when the ban passed through the state legislature earlier this month.
“Today’s ban, which inspires bounty hunters to sue their neighbors or strangers for accessing abortion care at any stage of pregnancy, is a reversal of history happening in front of our eyes,” Wales said. “Once signed, abortion shall be illegal in Oklahoma ― full stop.”
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) has signed a bill that bans abortion in his state.
Pro-choice advocates have argued that bans that restrict abortion at fertilization would feasibly also ban contraception and the so-called morning-after pill. The Oklahoma ban clarifies that it doesn’t apply to contraceptives, including emergency contraception pills like Plan B.
Oklahoma’s state legislature worked time beyond regulation this session to introduce and pass a slew of maximum and redundant anti-abortion laws. Earlier this month, Stitt signed the “Oklahoma Heartbeat Act” into law, which bans abortion at around six weeks and likewise uses the Texas-style enforcement mechanism. There are not any exceptions for rape or incest, and the law went into effect immediately after the governor signed it.
Lawmakers within the Sooner State also passed an unconstitutional bill that makes performing an abortion a felony punishable by as much as 10 years in prison. Stitt recently signed the bill into law, and it goes into effect in August.
“There’s really no rhyme or reason [for the redundancy of these bills] aside from a radical try to just confuse people, create chaos and wreak as much havoc as they will possibly do on people who find themselves looking for abortion and the providers who provide it,” said Rabia Muqaddam, senior legal counsel on the Center for Reproductive Rights.
It may well already be extremely dangerous to hold a pregnancy to term in Oklahoma. The state has one in every of the best maternal mortality rates for Black people in your entire country.
Abortion providers and pro-choice lawmakers spoke to HuffPost earlier this month about how severe restrictions in Oklahoma will devastate abortion access within the region. Since a six-week abortion ban went into effect in September, Texans have been traveling in droves to Oklahoma to receive abortion care. Now, Texans and Oklahomans will likely travel to Kansas in the event that they have the resources, but Kansas only has 4 abortion clinics left.
It’s unlikely those 4 clinics will find a way to accommodate patients from Texas and Oklahoma, in addition to Kansans themselves. Latest Mexico and Colorado will probably also see an influx of patients, but only those that have the resources to travel longer distances.
“What makes it different now’s that we don’t have the backstop of the US Supreme Court upholding precedent,” Oklahoma House Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D) told HuffPost earlier this month, referring to the 6-3 conservative majority on the high court and the upcoming decision expected to overturn or gut Roe v. Wade.
The Supreme Court draft opinion that leaked earlier this month revealed the conservative majority court is poised to overturn Roe in only just a few weeks. The news sent pro-choice groups scrambling to preserve federal abortion protections, while many abortion opponents took a victory lap. If Roe is overturned, 26 states will immediately ban or severely restrict abortion.