On Tuesday, the Oklahoma House gave final legislative approval to a bill that would make performing an abortion a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
With little discussion and no debate, the Republican-controlled House voted 70-14 to send the bill to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who said he’d sign any anti-abortion bill that came to his desk.
The bill is one of several anti-abortion measures still alive in Oklahoma’s Legislature this year, part of a trend of GOP-led states passing aggressive anti-abortion legislation as the conservative U.S. Supreme Court is considering ratcheting back abortion rights that have been in place for nearly 50 years.
The Oklahoma bill, which passed the Senate last year, makes an exception only for an abortion performed to save the mother’s life, said GOP state Rep. Jim Olsen of Roland, who sponsored the bill. Under the bill, a person convicted of performing an abortion would face up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
“The penalties are for the doctor, not the woman,” Olsen said.
The courts have stopped similar anti-abortion bills approved by the Oklahoma Legislature in recent years as unconstitutional.
The bill’s passage came on the same day as more than 100 people attended a “Bans off Oklahoma” rally outside the Capitol in support of abortion rights.
Abortion rights advocates gather outside the Oklahoma Capitol on Tuesday, April 5, 2023, in Oklahoma City, to protest several anti-abortion bills being considered by the GOP-led Legislature.
“These legislators have continued their relentless attacks on our freedoms,” said Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes. “These restrictions are not about improving the safety of our work. They are about shaming and stigmatizing people who need and deserve abortion access.”
Wales said Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinic in Oklahoma had seen an 800% increase in the number of women from Texas after that state passed the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the U.S. in decades.
The Texas law that took effect last year bans abortion once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy, without exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
Also, Tuesday, the Oklahoma House adopted a resolution to recognize lives lost due to abortion and urge citizens to fly flags at half-staff on January 22, the day the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in its landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.
The bill follows the suit of a highly controversial Texas law taking effect last year that allows private citizens to sue anyone who performs, aids, or abets an abortion after a fetal cardiac activity is detected (usually after six weeks of pregnancy) without exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
In recent years, many U.S. states passing restrictive abortion laws have grown. Arizona and Kentucky state legislatures voted to approve a 15-week ban on abortions in the past three weeks, while Idaho Governor Brad Little signed a law that bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.
The Hill report states that states like South Dakota and Tennessee have also moved legislation that aims to medication abortion, requiring women to make multiple trips to their doctor’s office to receive the two-dose regimen.
The Guttmacher Institute found that approximately 862,320 abortions occurred in the United States in 2017, resulting in an abortion rate of 13.5 per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44.