Oklahoma’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives has approved a bill that will ban abortion throughout the state, even in cases of incest or rape. The bill was passed in a 70-14 vote on Tuesday without any type of debate or questions on the floor.
Last year, the Oklahoma Senate approved the bill, and now it is on its way to Governor Kevin Stitt. The governor is widely expected to sign it; last year, he wrote on Twitter: “I promised Oklahomans I would sign every piece of pro-life legislation that came across my desk.”
In addition, the bill’s main author, state Senator Nathan Dahm, said that Stitt had told him in a previous conversation that he would sign it.
Although the measure bans abortions in almost all cases, it does not prohibit the sale, use, administration or prescription of contraceptives, nor does it allow for women to be criminally charged in the death of an unborn child.
Republican state Representative Jim Olsen, who is the bill’s main House author, explained why be supports the idea of banning abortions even in cases of rape and incest. Although he believes those are horrible crimes, the baby that is conceived from them has a right to live. He told CNN: “The baby should not be liable for the sins of the father. It’s still a life.”
The new law is particularly relevant because Oklahoma had previously been a state where Texas residents went to get abortion procedures. In September, Texas banned abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, and Oklahoma clinics report having to raise their capacity to keep up with the demand of 600 extra patients each month.
In fact, a study by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project revealed that nearly half of all Texans who went out of state to get abortions between September and December of last year headed to Oklahoma, with others going to Louisiana, Colorado and New Mexico. Abortion provider Planned Parenthood reported that its number of Texas abortion patients at locations near the border in Oklahoma climbed by 2500 percent between September and December of last year compared to the year before.
The new law only allows abortions to be carried out in the case of a medical emergency. It will see abortion providers penalized with fines of up to $100,000 or ten years in prison, or potentially both.
Oklahoma’s state Senate is also weighing legislation modeled after a Texas law allowing the enforcement of abortion bans via private lawsuits. In addition to banning most abortions at any point throughout pregnancy, it would allow private citizens to enforce this with civil litigation.
Meanwhile, legislators in Missouri are reportedly preparing a bill banning state residents from getting an abortion, even if they go out of state to receive it. In addition, the bill would permit individuals to sue anyone who helped a Missouri resident get an abortion.
Abortion laws changing as country awaits Supreme Court ruling
Several states have recently passed abortion restrictions as the anti-abortion movement seems to be gaining momentum. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering a case asking it to overturn the Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion throughout the country. A ruling is expected in June on the case, which could see nearly half of states in a better position to outlaw abortion thanks to trigger laws that come into force if the landmark ruling is overturned. Right now, 13 states have trigger laws that will automatically ban abortion during the first and second trimesters if Roe v Wade is overturned, and many others are likely to follow suit.
Colorado, however, has taken the opposite stance, with Governor Jared Polis signing a new bill into law affirming access to abortion at any point in a woman’s pregnancy up until the point of giving birth.
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