Oklahoma House passes bill that bans most abortions after the moment of conception

Given the apparent imminence of the Supreme Court overruling the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision to uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, some Republican-led states have already begun to move forward with their own legislative restrictions on abortion.

That includes Oklahoma, which just passed a decidedly pro-life bill that would effectively ban most abortions beginning at the point of conception, The Daily Wire reported.

The legislation is modeled, at least in part, on a Texas law implemented in 2021 that bans most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, around six weeks of pregnancy, but leaves enforcement of the prohibition up to citizens empowered to file civil suits against abortion providers and those who “aid and abet” the fatal procedures.

Abortions banned beginning at conception

House Bill 4327, which had already been approved by the state Senate in April, was passed by the Oklahoma House on Thursday by a vote of 73 to 16 and now heads to the desk of pro-life Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) for his signature, at which point it would immediately take effect.

As noted, it bans nearly all abortions starting at the moment of conception or fertilization — defined as the fusion of a sperm and egg — and further defines a protected “unborn child” as a “human fetus or embryo in any stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.”

There are a few exceptions, though, such as abortions performed to save the life of a mother in a “medical emergency” as well as pregnancies that stemmed from “rape, sexual assault, or incest,” provided those acts had been formally reported to law enforcement.

Nor does the prohibition on abortion apply to the use of virtually any form of contraception, including so-called “morning-after pills” like Plan B. Likewise, the ban does not extend to miscarriages, the removal of an already dead fetus, or ectopic pregnancies.

Similar to the aforementioned six-week Texas ban, this new law in Oklahoma would not be enforced by the state itself but rather by citizens who can file civil liability suits against abortion providers and knowing facilitators and can be awarded up to $10,000 in damages plus attorney fees and court costs.

The mothers who receive a prohibited abortion cannot be sued, however, and a provider can’t be sued more than once for the same abortion. Nor can a suit be filed by a “person who impregnated a woman seeking an abortion through an act of rape, sexual assault, incest, or any other act prohibited by state law.”

Oklahoma’s third pro-life bill in a month

Forbes reported that this is now the third significant pro-life bill passed by the Oklahoma legislature in the span of about a month, with the other bills making the provision of an abortion a felony crime as well as one banning virtually all abortions after six weeks that is contingent upon Roe being overturned.

Of course, pro-abortion activists and groups have vowed to fight this legislation in court. That said, in light of how the new Texas law has thus far withstood legal scrutiny, the hopes of a court striking down this new Oklahoma law, assuming the governor approves it, look fairly slim.

In the end, this appears to be yet another victory for the pro-life side of the abortion rights debate and it will be interesting to see if any other states follow suit with similar laws that significantly restrict the life-ending procedures.

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