Oklahoma Passes Nation’s Strictest Anti-Abortion Law

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Judge's gavel | Image by Zolnierek

On May 19, lawmakers in Oklahoma passed legislation that will constitute the most stringent abortion prohibition in the country. The Oklahoma House of Representatives, with a vote of 73 to 16, approved House Bill 4327, and the Oklahoma State Senate voted 35 to 10 in its favor.

If Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signs the bill, as expected, the law will become effective immediately.

Under this legislation, abortion would be banned in Oklahoma after the point of fertilization. That is defined as the moment of “the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum.”

The bill allows an exception for an abortion to be performed to save the pregnant woman’s life or if the pregnancy resulted from rape, sexual assault, or incest.

The bill is similar to a Texas law that allows citizens to initiate lawsuits against abortion providers or anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion but prohibits state officials from enforcing the law.

Legal challenges to the Texas bill have thus far been defeated, including ones brought before the Supreme Court.

Republican State Representative Wendi Stearman introduced the bill and said if enacted, it would be “the most effective lifesaving anti-abortion law in the entire nation.”

“Is our goal to defend the right to life or isn’t it?” Stearman asked her fellow lawmakers before the vote.

This bill will be the third anti-abortion bill sent to Gov. Stitt this year.

One was another Texas-style bill that has already taken effect and bans abortion after a heartbeat is detected in the embryo, which is usually around six weeks, with an exception for medical emergencies.

Another bill that will take effect this summer makes performing an abortion a felony, punishable by up to 10 years of prison. That bill does not make any 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. “It’s the worst-case scenario for abortion care in the state of Oklahoma.”

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