On Wednesday, Oklahoma legislators passed what critics have called the most restrictive abortion bill in the U.S.
The bill bans abortions from the point of fertilization with limited exceptions, making abortion inaccessible at any point during pregnancy except to save the life of the pregnant person. Pregnancy cannot be detected until approximately 2 weeks after fertilization, leaving no window for women to access abortion early in pregnancy.
The bill does not apply to morning-after pills such as Plan B or other forms of contraception. However, IUDs are not explicitly mentioned, which has caused concern for some abortion advocates that these may soon come under attack.
According to legislators, the bill will also work alongside a new law classifying performing an abortion as a felony. This would leave any abortion providers with up to $100,00 in fines or up to 10 years in prison.
There are exceptions to the bill including in cases where a pregnancy is the result of sexual assault or incest, but only if this has been reported to the police.
Oklahoma’s two remaining abortion clinics are expected to stop offering services, and doctors will decide which women qualify for an abortion under these exemptions. The clinic closures will also further limit abortion access to the 800% increase in Texan patients who had been traveling to the state to recieve care since Texas’ 6-week cutoff was implemented in September.
“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,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin 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.”
While 26 US states have ‘trigger laws’ which would ban abortion immediatley if Roe v Wade is overturned, Oklahoma is now the only state to outlaw abortion while Roe still stands.
An Oklahoman coalition of abortion advocates including Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights have filed a challenge to the bill, hoping to block it in court. Nancy Northup of the Center for Reproductive rights said in a statement:
“We are seeing the beginning of a domino effect that will spread across the entire South and Midwest if Roe falls… Right now, patients in Oklahoma are being thrown into a state of chaos and fear. That chaos will only intensify as surrounding states cut off access as well. We will not stop fighting for the people of Oklahoma and for everyone across the country. We all deserve the freedom to control our own bodies and lives.”
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