Oklahoma legislature passes ‘total ban’ on abortion

The Republican-dominated Oklahoma state legislature has given final approval to the nation’s harshest anti-abortion bill, which bans the procedure at any time after fertilization.

The bill, which Gov. Kevin Stitt has pledged to sign into law, has already drawn legal challenges from abortion providers and advocates. The measure is designed to take effect immediately once the governor signs it into law.

Once it does, Oklahoma will be the first state in the US to make all abortions illegal, and abortion providers and anyone who “aides or abets” an abortion would be subject to civil lawsuits from individuals.

Governor Stitt, who has vowed to “outlaw” abortion in the state despite constitutional protections affirmed by the US Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wadehas already enacted several anti-abortion laws this year, including a ban on the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant.

He also signed a law making abortion care a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison, which takes effect in August.

“This ban must stop, along with the other abortion bans the state passed last month,” according to a statement from Planned Parenthood Action.

Opponents warn that the bill could criminalize some forms of contraception, as well as in vitro fertilization.

If it becomes law, patients across the state, including Texas patients who have relied on access to abortion in the neighboring state after draconian measures were enacted last year, would be forced to carry pregnancies to term or travel long distances to states where care is accessible.

The bill passed the state House of Representatives on May 19 with a vote of 73-16.

The Oklahoma moves join a wave of anti-abortion bills introduced by state lawmakers this year, emboldened by an upcoming decision in a Mississippi Supreme Court case that is expected to overturn the landmark decision in Roe vs. Wade and its affirmative ruling of the P of 1992Lanned Parenthood vs. Casey.

A decision in that case, Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organizationis expected in June.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the dobbs case in December. But the nation’s highest court also refused to weigh in on the Texas law banning six-week abortions, fueling a wave of harshly restrictive anti-abortion legislation that Republican lawmakers hoped could survive legal scrutiny despite clear evidence. constitutional challenges.

Oklahoma already has a so-called “trigger” ban, which would outlaw abortions entirely, designed to go into effect without Roe protections

Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which serves four states including Oklahoma, said the move “is not just another ban. It is not another prohibition. It is a first” and a “reversal of history that happens in front of our eyes”.

“We are prepared to mourn the loss of protections that have ensured people’s ability to make personal medical decisions,” he said during a briefing Thursday.

Rabia Muqaddam, senior attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the wave of anti-abortion legislation in the state has thrown patients “into chaos.”

“There is no denying that this is a very dark day,” he said. “It is essential that states where possible … step up and [affirm] under their state constitutions that abortion is protected.”

“The fact that Oklahoma politicians are proud to pass [the bill] it’s a shame,” added Dr. Iman Alsaden, medical director of Planned Parenthood Great Plains.

Dr. Alsaden condemned the state’s anti-abortion agenda and its disparate impacts on Black and Native American patients and their families and people of color.

The latest measure is likely to force them to “leave their community or have a forced birth,” he said. “This is not freedom.”

More than a fifth of Oklahoma’s children live below the poverty line, and 71% of low-income residents enrolled in a food assistance program are families with children. The state is also ranked 42nd in overall child welfare.

With the state’s poor health outcomes and poor maternal health and high rates of incarceration, Oklahoma “is not a pro-life state,” Dr. Alsaden said. “Oklahoma is a pro-government, pro-control state. Oklahoma wants to control your bodily autonomy and take away your basic human rights.”

Tamya Cox-Toure, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, said the latest bill also makes it unclear whether “aid and abet” includes providers and advocates who help people make decisions about their health care.

“We think we have a First Amendment right to talk to people about their options,” he said.

She said abortion rights advocates and opponents of the bill will continue to “provoke as much as they can.”

“We will not stop fighting for Oklahomans to get the care they need and, more importantly, the care they want,” he said.

This is a developing story

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