OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law Wednesday the nation’s strictest abortion ban, making the state the first in the country to effectively end the availability of the procedure.
State legislators approved the ban is enforced through civil lawsuits rather than criminal proceedings, similar to a Texas law that passed last year. The law takes effect immediately upon Stitt’s signature and bans all abortions with few exceptions. Abortion providers have said they will stop performing the procedure as soon as the bill is signed.
“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 deliver on that promise today,” the first-term Republican 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 the life of that baby and the life of the mother. That’s what I believe and that’s what most Oklahomans believe.”
Abortion providers across the country have been bracing for the possibility that the new conservative majority on the US Supreme Court will further restrict the practice, and that has been especially the case in Oklahoma and Texas.
“The impact will be disastrous for Oklahomans,” said Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. “It will also have serious ripple effects, especially for Texas patients who had been traveling to Oklahoma in large numbers after Texas’ six-week abortion ban went into effect in September.”
The bills are part of an aggressive push in Republican-led states. to reduce the right to abortion. It comes on the heels of a leaked opinion draft from the nation’s supreme court suggesting the justices are considering weakening or overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade who legalized abortion nearly 50 years ago.
The only exceptions in oklahoma law they 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 the police.
The bill specifically authorizes doctors to remove a “stillborn child caused by miscarriage” or miscarriage, or remove an ectopic pregnancy, a 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 contraceptive.
Two of Oklahoma’s four abortion clinics have already stopped performing 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’s unclear what will happen to women who qualify under one of the exceptions.. The bill’s author, state Rep. 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 qualification could be difficult and even dangerous in some circumstances.
In addition to the Texas-style bill already signed into law, the measure is one of at least three anti-abortion bills sent to Stitt this year.
The Oklahoma law is styled after a Texas law, the first of its kind, which the US Supreme Court has allowed to remain in effect. which allows private individuals to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps a woman have an abortion. Other Republican-led states tried to copy the Texas ban. governor of idaho signed the first copycat measure in March, though it has been temporarily blocked by the state Supreme Court
Oklahoma’s third bill goes into effect this summer and would make it a felony to perform an abortion, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. That bill contains no exceptions for rape or incest.