- Governor Kevin Stitt signed the strictest abortion ban in the US on Wednesday
- ‘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’
- There are exceptions for incest or rape that has been reported to law enforcement and to save the life of a pregnant woman
- The law also does not apply to the use of morning-after pills such as Plan B or any type of contraception
- Oklahoma is the only state to outlaw abortions while Roe v. Wade still stands
- The state went forward with the ban in anticipation that the Supreme Court will overrun Roe v. Wade in an upcoming decision
- A draft of the decision was leaked earlier this month, suggesting the hot button issue will eventually restrict access to abortion
- ‘Legislators who, in overwhelming numbers, cannot become pregnant just made lesser citizens of those you can’t,’ Great Plains Planned Parenthood said
- Pro-choice Oklahomans protested outside of the state capitol over the ruling with signs saying ‘my body, my choice’ and ‘never again’
PUBLISHED: 20:27 EDT, 25 May 2022 | UPDATED: 03:35 EDT, 26 May 2022
Oklahoma has officially enacted the United States’ strictest abortion law, which bans terminations from the moment of conception.
The state’s GOP Governor Kevin Stitt, 49, signed the new legislation on Tuesday, which allows Oklahomans to sue anyone who helps a woman get an abortion.
‘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,’ Stitt said in a statement.
‘From the moment life begins at conception is when we have a responsibility as human beings to do everything we can to protect that baby’s life and the life of the mother. That is what I believe and that is what the majority of Oklahomans believe.’
The law takes effect immediately and the only exceptions are to save the life of a pregnant woman or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest that has been reported to law enforcement.
The bill specifically authorizes doctors to remove a ‘dead unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion’ or miscarriage.
It also permits them to remove an ectopic pregnancy, a potentially life-threatening emergency that occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, often in a fallopian tube and early in pregnancy.
The law also does not apply to the use of morning-after pills, such as Plan B, or any type of contraception.+7View gallery
Two of Oklahoma’s four abortion clinics already stopped providing abortions after the governor signed a six-week ban earlier this month.
With the state’s two remaining abortion clinics expected to stop offering services, it is unclear what will happen to women who qualify under one of the exceptions.
The law’s author, State Representative Wendi Stearman, says doctors will be empowered to decide which women qualify and that those abortions will be performed in hospitals.
But providers and abortion-rights activists warn that trying to prove qualifications could prove difficult and even dangerous in some circumstances.+7View gallery
In addition to the Texas-style bill already signed into law, the measure is one of at least three anti-abortion bills sent this year to Stitt.
Oklahoma’s law is styled after a first-of-its-kind Texas law that the US Supreme Court has allowed to remain in place that allows private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion.
Other Republican-led states sought to copy Texas’ ban. Idaho’s governor signed the first copycat measure in March, although it has been temporarily blocked by the state’s Supreme Court.
The six-week Texas ban also drew even more controversy as it isn’t enforced by the state but by Texas’ own private citizens.
The law that took effect on September 1 allows any private citizen to sue Texas abortion providers who violate the law, as well as anyone who ‘aids or abets’ a woman getting the procedure.
The statute sets minimum damages of $10,000 per banned abortion, to be paid out to the first person to prevail in a suit over the procedure.
Other states, like Florida, are trying to find a middle ground. Florida enacted a 15-week ban, similar to those in liberal European countries.
In addition, medical technology means babies can now survive outside the womb pretty early, meaning the US faces its own questions about enacting abortion time limits.
As the current law stands in the US, women can get an abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, according to Planned Parenthood. Although late-term abortions are possible, it rare and reserved for medical conditions.
Oklahoma is among the country’s Republican-led states rushing to pass anti-abortion laws this year, anticipating that the US Supreme Court will soon overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that established the constitutional right to abortion.Oklahoma governor signs near-total abortion ban threatening prison.
‘The impact will be disastrous for Oklahomans,’ said Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst for the abortion-rights supporting Guttmacher Institute. ‘It will also have severe ripple effects, especially for Texas patients who had been traveling to Oklahoma in large numbers after the Texas six-week abortion ban went into effect in September.’
The bills are part of an aggressive push in Republican-led states to scale back abortion rights.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, a global advocacy group based in New York, said it would ‘imminently file a challenge to the ban and seek to block it in court.’
‘Oklahoma is now the only state in the United States to successfully outlaw abortion while Roe v. Wade still stands,’ the center said in a statement.
Great Plains Planned Parenthood also said in a statement: ‘People who can become pregnant now have fewer rights and fewer protections in Oklahoma than in any other state in the union. Legislators who, in overwhelming numbers, cannot become pregnant just made lesser citizens of those you can’t.’
A draft of the Supreme Court opinion leaked on May 2 showed the court’s conservative majority intends to overhaul federal abortion rights and send the issue of legalization back to individual states.+7View gallery
Justice Samuel Alito, one of six justices appointed by Republican presidents on the nine-member court, wrote a majority draft opinion in February repudiating both Roe and the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey decision.
‘Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,’ Alito writes in the opinion, which was reportedly circulated among the court members. ‘We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,’ he continues in the document, titled ‘Opinion of the Court.’
‘It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.’
Republicans celebrated the decision, calling it a victory for the social conservatives and Christians who have worked for decades to reach this moment.
The draft document is not final until the court formally announces its decision in a case, meaning the ruling could technically still be changed. The court is expected to issue its final ruling before its term is up in late June or early July.
However, with the majority of the court being conservative – thanks to Trumps two appointees Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – the draft could be a good indication as to what’s to come in the final draft.