On Wednesday, Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the nation’s strongest abortion ban into law. As a result, making the state the first in the country to eliminate access to the surgery.
State lawmakers adopted the restriction, which will be enforced through civil lawsuits rather than criminal punishment, like Texas legislation last year. With a few exceptions, the legislation outlaws all abortions and goes into force immediately after Stitt’s signing. Abortion providers have stated that they will no longer perform the operation if the law is signed.
Stitt stated in a statement after the bill was signed into law:
“I promised Oklahomans that as governor I would sign every piece of pro-life legislation that came across my desk, and I am proud to keep that promise today.” “From the moment life begins at conception is when we have a responsibility as human beings to do everything to protect that baby’s life and the life of the mother.” Stitt continued, adding that “if other states want to pass different laws, that is their right, but in Oklahoma, we will always stand up for life.”
The bill, HB 4327 | Abortion Ban
HB 4327 is one of the nation’s harshest abortion laws, and it is a direct rebuttal to the rights afforded in the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade case, which legalized abortion nationally.
A group of abortion providers and abortion rights supporters stated that they would sue to overturn the law. Abortions are forbidden at any stage of pregnancy under the legislation. However, there are exceptions:
- medical emergencies,
- pregnancy was the result of rape,
- sexual assault, or incest that was reported to law authorities.
The governor’s signing comes as Republican-led states have campaigned for tight abortion restrictions in the hope that the US Supreme Court will overturn Roe in a case involving a Mississippi abortion ban.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito revealed that the conservative-majority court was ready to overturn the notion of a federal constitutional right to abortion.
The case’s final decision has not yet been revealed, and votes and language can yet alter. The opinion will not be released until late June.
Many states have trigger laws in place that prohibit abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe. However, the Oklahoma measure went into force upon Stitt’s approval.
Stitt had previously signed into law two contentious abortion bills this year, including one fashioned after a Texas abortion legislation that empowers private persons to sue abortion doctors in civil court to enforce the statute.
If the courts do not intervene, the bill will go into force this summer.
Abortion rights groups worry that the Oklahoma laws will remove access to abortion throughout the South. Wreaking havoc on not just Oklahomans, but also Texans seeking abortion treatment in the state.
Both laws’ enforcement provisions were fashioned after Texas legislation that went into effect in September and barred clinics from conducting all abortions in that state.
“We are seeing the beginning of a domino effect that will spread across the entire South and Midwest if Roe falls,” stated Nancy Northup, president, and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
“Right now, patients in Oklahoma are being thrown into a state of chaos and fear. That chaos will only intensify as surrounding states cut off access as well. We will not stop fighting for the people of Oklahoma and for everyone across the country,” she continued. “Instead of working to make communities safer, Oklahoma politicians have made it their priority to outlaw abortion, even while Roe stands,” added Alexis McGill Johnson, president, and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “For anyone seeking abortion in Oklahoma and beyond: Planned Parenthood and our partners are fighting for you. We will bring everything we have to make sure you can get the care you need, and challenge every ban enacted in Oklahoma.”
It has been a destination for Texas women seeking abortions after six weeks before the adoption of the Oklahoma legislation. Oklahoma’s limitations have now enlarged a section of the country with little to no legal abortion access, requiring patients to travel to states like Kansas, New Mexico, and Colorado to end their pregnancies.
Abortion providers around the country have been prepared for the potential that the new conservative majority on the United States Supreme Court may further restrict the procedure, particularly in Oklahoma and Texas.
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