by Sean Murphy | The Associated Press
Oklahoma City — Oklahoma lawmakers on Thursday approved a bill banning all abortions with few exceptions, and providers said they would stop performing the procedure as soon as the governor signs it.
Two of the state’s four abortion clinics had already stopped providing abortions after the governor signed a six-week ban earlier this month, and a lawyer for two other independent clinics said the bill would be signed. After that they will no longer provide services. The bill is expected to reach Governor Kevin Stitt’s desk early next week, and first-time Republicans running for re-election have already said they will take a stand on any anti-abortion bills sent by the Legislature. will sign. It will become effective immediately after he signs it.
Rabia Muqaddam, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive, said, “This bill can go into effect at any time, and once it does, anyone can sue clinics, doctors, anyone else involved in performing abortions in Oklahoma.” is.” RITES, which is representing Oklahoma clinics in legal challenges against several proposed new anti-abortion laws.
The bills are part of an aggressive push to reduce abortion rights in Republican-led states across the country. This comes on the heels of a leaked draft opinion from the US Supreme Court that suggests the landmark Roe v. Wade’s decision to dilute or reverse.
Collinsville Republican Representative Wendy Stearman’s bill would prohibit all abortions except those that 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.
“Do we aim to protect the right to life or not?” Stearman asked his colleagues, mostly along party lines, before the bill was passed on a 73–16 vote.
The bill specifically authorizes doctors to remove “an unborn child dead due to spontaneous abortion” or to remove an ectopic pregnancy, a potentially life-threatening emergency that occurs when a fertilized egg, outside the uterus, Often occurs in one of the fallopian tubes and early in pregnancy. ,
The bill also does not apply to the use of Plan B, the morning after pills or any other form of contraception.
Since the Bill defines an “unborn child” as a human embryo or embryo that occurs at any stage of conception from fertilization to birth, it is not expected to apply to in vitro fertilization, which occurs when The eggs are fertilized before being transferred to a laboratory. Oklahoma City Fertility Specialist Dr. Eli Reshef said that the woman’s uterus.
“(Bill) does not criminalize what we do,” Rechef said. “No matter anyone’s position on abortion, we are not concerned about a bill harming our particular profession.”
The bill is one of at least three anti-abortion bills sent to Stitt this year. Another Texas-style abortion bill that prohibits the procedure to detect heart activity in a fetus after it’s about six weeks, experts say, has already gone into effect and the practice has already been dramatic in Oklahoma. substantially reduced. Another bill set to take effect this summer would make it a crime to perform an abortion, which could carry up to 10 years in prison. There is no exception in that bill for rape or incest.
“At this point, we are preparing for the most restrictive environment politicians can create: a complete ban on abortion, without exception,” said Emily Wells, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which has Two stopped providing abortions. Oklahoma clinics went into effect earlier this month after a six-week ban. “This is the worst-case scenario for abortion care in the state of Oklahoma.”
Like Texas law, the Oklahoma bill would allow private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who helped a woman get an abortion. After the US Supreme Court allowed that mechanism to remain in place, other Republican-led states sought to copy Texas’ ban. Idaho’s governor signed off on the counterfeiting measure earlier in March, though it has been temporarily blocked by the state’s Supreme Court.
After Texas passed its bill last year, there was a dramatic reduction in the number of abortions performed in that state, with many women moving to Oklahoma and other nearby states for the procedure.
Legal challenges to a bill to criminalize abortion and a six-week Texas ban in Oklahoma are pending, but courts have so far failed to block any measures.
According to data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the number of abortions performed each year in Oklahoma has declined steadily over the past two decades, from 6,200 in 2002 to 3,737 in 2020, the most in more than 20 years. is less. In 2020, before the Texas law was passed, about 9% of the abortions performed in Oklahoma were Texas women.
Before the Texas ban took effect on September 1, about 40 Texas women had abortions in Oklahoma each month, data shows. That number rose to 222 Texas women in September and 243 in October.