The Oklahoma House on Tuesday passed a near-total ban on abortion that is expected to be signed by the governor and would make the state one of a number that have begun to restrict nearly all abortions.
The bill, which would make it a felony to perform an abortion except to save the mother’s life, passed 70-14 without debate. Anyone convicted under the bill could get up to 10 years in prison and a 100,000 fine.
Republican Governor Kevin Stitt has said he will sign all the pro-life bills he can, and the bill already passed the Senate last year.
“The penalties are for the doctor, not for the woman,” bill sponsor Rep. Jim Olson (R) said.
Bill will impact Texas, too
The bill will not only stop almost all abortions in the state’s four clinics, but it will also impact nearly 600 patients a month who have been coming from Texas to get abortions since that state has banned the procedure after about six weeks of gestation.
The Oklahoma clinics have been adding shifts and doctors to accommodate the increased volume of abortion-seekers, but have been seeing more late-term pregnancies as people are forced to wait longer to terminate their pregnancies.
Some patients are already going to Kansas and Illinois to get abortions instead of waiting, and this situation will get even worse (or better, depending on your perspective) after the Oklahoma law is signed.
“The capacity of these states is not enough for their own state, let alone to be able to absorb … Texas’s needs, even if you split them up,” Gingrich-Gaylord said.
Will the law stand?
If the new law isn’t challenged, it will go into effect this summer.
Challenges to the law would cite Roe V. Wade as a precedent, and would probably make it difficult for the law to stand as it is.
If the Supreme Court rules to uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks, or before viability, however, the Oklahoma law may be deemed okay as well.
Some on both sides of the political aisle think Roe V. Wade may be overturned when the high court rules on the Mississippi case this summer, but in the meanwhile, states like Oklahoma are moving forward to do what they think is right.