Oklahoma Governor Signs Nation’s Strictest Abortion Law
Abortion rights have been curtailed in state after state since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked. The ACLU says that abortions are 99% safe and that nearly 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime.
Oklahoma Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signed the nation’s strictest abortion law
on Wednesday, effectively banning the procedure throughout the state.
The ban begins at conception and the only exceptions are when the mother’s life is in danger or in cases of rape or incest that have been reported to law enforcement.
The law also allows doctors to remove dead fetuses due to a miscarriage and to remove an ectopic pregnancy, a potentially life threatening emergency when a fertilized egg implants itself in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus early in the pregnancy.
Morning after pills or other forms of contraception are not affected by the law.
Much like a Texas law passed last year that the Supreme Court upheld, the law does not enforce any criminal penalties. Instead, it allows any citizen to sue abortion providers or 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 comes in the wake of a leaked Supreme Court ruling that is set to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that protected women’s rights to have an abortion without excessive government interference. That decision is expected to officially be released in the next few weeks.
The law will not only affect women in Oklahoma seeking an abortion. Women from Texas had been crossing the border in large numbers to seek abortions after Texas Governor Greg Abbott passed a law that bans abortions six weeks after conception.
Multiple Republican states have been pushing anti-abortion laws in preparation for the Supreme Court ruling. According to the ACLU, 26 states are likely to ban abortion once Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Stitt had already signed a six week ban earlier this month and another ban is set to take effect this summer. That law will make it a felony to perform an abortion, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and contains no exceptions for rape or incest.
Abortion providers across the state have previously said they will shut down once the law is signed.
Prior to the bill’s signing, the ACLU Oklahoma chapter promised to fight the law in court.
“The majority rights and the majority vision can’t ever overturn and usurp minority individual rights, and that is what we’re seeing,” Tamya Cox-Toure, the executive director of ACLU Oklahoma told the local ABC affiliate after the law passed the state legislature.
The ACLU has already filed a lawsuit against the six-week abortion ban passed earlier this month.
The abortion ban is not the only controversial bill Stitt signed this week. On Thursday, he signed a law that requires schools
to only allow students into the bathrooms of the genders they were assigned at birth. The anti-trans legislation will reduce state funding for schools that refuse to comply with the law. It will go into effect immediately.