The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision next month on the fate of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 decision guaranteeing a national right to abortion. In anticipation of court annulment deerRepublicans in dozens of states rushed to write laws that would severely restrict access to abortion or ban the procedure.
Oklahoma’s bill is similar in its enforcement mechanism to one that was signed into law in Texas last year, allowing civilians to sue those who perform or seek abortions.
Under Oklahoma’s bill, those who could be punished include anyone who “performs or induces” an abortion; anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or encourages the performance or inducement of an abortion”, including paying for one; and anyone who “even intends to engage” in either of the above two actions.
The bill defines “fertilization” as the moment when a sperm meets the egg. It explicitly allows the use of the Plan B pill, a widely used form of emergency contraception often provided to rape victims, but would ban medical abortions. The bill exempts from its definition of abortion any procedure intended to “save the life or preserve the health of the unborn child”, to “remove a dead unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion” or to remove an ectopic pregnancy.
The bill provides exceptions for abortion if it is “necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman in the event of a medical emergency” or if the pregnancy is the result of rape, sexual assault or incest that has been reported to law enforcement.
The bill passed the Oklahoma State Legislature in a vote of 73 to 16 on Thursday, and it goes to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (right), who said he wanted Oklahoma to be “the most pro-life state in the country.” If enacted, it will come into force immediately.
Oklahoma State Representative Wendi Stearman (R), the bill’s sponsor, welcomed the passage of the measure.
“I sincerely hope that in addition to the criminal bill passed this session, this tort bill will provide strong additional protection for the lives of unborn children in Oklahoma,” Stearman said in a statement. Press.
On Thursday, Planned Parenthood pledged to sue the state of Oklahoma over the legislation, saying the ban “must be stopped.”
“The Oklahoma Legislature just passed a total ban on abortion, enforced by private citizens,” the pro-choice group tweeted. “This ban will go into effect as soon as the governor signs the bill, making Oklahoma the first state to completely ban abortion — even though Roe v. Wade is still in effect.”
Democratic state representatives from Oklahoma had sounded the alarm over the bill. Among some of the concerns they raised was that it might affect in vitro fertilization.
“Looking at the language, it’s hard to see how it wouldn’t affect in vitro fertilization because it speaks as soon as the egg and the sperm meet, and the egg is fertilized, that means it’s a nobody,” the Oklahoma state representative said. Emily Virgin (D) said, according to KOKH News. “That’s what happens with in vitro fertilization, you create embryos.”
Stearman said IVF was not included in the bill because it “would be difficult” to prove that an abortion took place in this situation.
Trust Women, an Oklahoma abortion provider, called the bill’s passage “a gratuitous and cruel display of power by anti-abortion lawmakers” and noted that the legislature has already passed several bans this session.
“The litany of oppressive and punitive anti-abortion laws that have sprung up this year send a signal to Oklahoma residents that their agency doesn’t matter, their dreams don’t matter, and their lives don’t matter. doesn’t matter,” Trust Women spokesperson Zack said. Gingrich-Gaylord said in a statement.
The latest action on state abortion laws
Just two weeks ago, Stitt signed into law a law banning abortion in the state for pregnancies in the last six weeks, the day after a staggering leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. At the time, he was talking about the state at the forefront of stopping abortions, which was part of why the state’s new ban made no exceptions for rape or incest.
On Sunday, Stitt defended signing the six-week ban into law without those exceptions, telling Fox News, “It’s a human being inside the womb. … We will do everything to protect life and love both mother and child. And we also don’t think killing one to protect another is the right thing to do.
Even in the two weeks since Stitt signed the six-week ban into law, Gingrich-Gaylord said it had had a “dramatic” effect.
“Our patients are scared, confused by the new reality they are living in now,” he said. “They are angry at a government that continues to show a reckless and enthusiastic disregard for their lives.”
The group’s clinics in Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kansas, would remain open, he added.