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Oklahoma Legislature Passes Bill Banning Almost All Abortions

  • May 20, 2022

No state currently prohibits abortion starting at fertilization. The Oklahoma legislation attempts to do so by employing a legal tactic the courts have allowed: civilian enforcement.

If signed by the governor, the Oklahoma bill would cut off another option for Texas women who had been flooding across the state border to seek legal procedures, and it seeks to punish even those from out of state who assist Oklahoma women in getting abortions.

In 2017, the last year for which statistics were available, there were 4,780 abortions in Oklahoma, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. As in most states, Oklahoma’s abortion rate had been declining. But the Texas law resulted in an influx of women crossing into Oklahoma to get abortions. Planned Parenthood said its health centers in Oklahoma saw a 2,500 percent increase in the number of patients from Texas in the first three months the law was in effect.

Oklahoma already has a trigger ban that would immediately ban abortion if the court overturns Roe, as well as a ban on abortion that has remained on the books since before the Roe decision. Two weeks ago, just after the leak of the Alito draft opinion, Mr. Stitt signed a six-week ban closely modeled on the Texas legislation. The previous month, he had signed a law that will take effect in late August, outlawing abortion entirely except to save the life of the mother. That ban imposes criminal penalties on abortion providers.

The latest bill in Oklahoma was condemned by the Biden administration as the most extreme example of legislators undoing the right to an abortion.

“This is part of a growing effort by ultra MAGA officials across the country to roll back the freedoms we should not take for granted,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said in a statement, referring to the “Make America Great Again” slogan embraced by supporters of Donald J. Trump.

The six-week abortion ban had already sharply reduced the number of procedures Oklahoma abortion providers could perform. Andrea Gallegos, the executive administrator at the Tulsa Women’s Clinic, said the governor’s signature on the bill passed Thursday would make performing any abortions in the state impossible.

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