All Abortions Are Effectively Outlawed in Oklahoma

Gov. Stitt signs into law measure that prohibits them starting at conception
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 19, 2022 2:22 PM CDT
Updated May 26, 2022 12:22 PM CDT
Oklahoma Approves Nation's Most Restrictive Abortion Ban
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

Update: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday signed into law the nation’s strictest abortion ban, making the state the first in the nation to effectively end availability of the procedure, per the AP. The law takes effect immediately and prohibits all abortions starting at conception, allowing for only rare exceptions. “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," said Stitt. “The impact will be disastrous for Oklahomans," countered Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute. Our story from May 19 follows.

Oklahoma's Legislature gave final approval Thursday to a Texas-style anti-abortion bill that providers say will be the most restrictive in the nation once the governor signs it. The bill by Collinsville Republican Rep. Wendi Stearman would prohibit all abortions, except 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, per the AP.

  • The Texas law bans abortions after six weeks, but Oklahoma's measure goes further and bans them starting at fertilization, per the New York Times.
  • The bill is part of an aggressive push in Republican-led states across the country to scale back abortion rights. It comes on the heels of a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court that suggests justices are considering weakening or overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

  • “Is our goal to defend the right to life or isn't it?" Stearman asked her colleagues before the bill passed on a 73-16 vote, mostly along party lines.
  • The bill is one of at least three anti-abortion bills sent this year to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who has indicated he'll sign it. Another Texas-style abortion bill that prohibits the procedure after cardiac activity can be detected in the embryo, which experts say is about six weeks, already has taken effect and has already dramatically curtailed the practice in Oklahoma. Another bill set to take effect this summer 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.

  • “At this point, we are preparing for the most restrictive environment politicians can create: a complete ban on abortion with likely no exceptions," said Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which stopped providing abortions at two of its Oklahoma clinics after the six-week ban took effect earlier this month. “It’s the worst-case scenario for abortion care in the state of Oklahoma."
  • Like the Texas law, the Oklahoma bill would allow private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps a woman obtain abortion. After the Supreme Court allowed that mechanism to remain in place, 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 in court.
(Read more abortion stories.)

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