The Oklahoma legislature adopted two pieces of legislation on Thursday that would prohibit practically all abortions. Both proposals were written by Republicans and would go into effect immediately if the governor signed them as he had promised.
After the state Senate passed a law banning abortions except in medical emergency, rape, or incest, Oklahoma would become the most restrictive state in the United States for abortions. Earlier this year, the state’s House of Representatives passed a bill prohibiting abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The Senate had previously adopted that proposal.
Senator Julie Daniels, a Republican, stated about the near-total prohibition, “The aim of this bill is to protect unborn children, so we are reminding everyone that abortion is illegal except in limited circumstances.”
Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, has stated that any anti-abortion legislation that comes to his desk will be signed.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights advocacy research group, if the near-total ban is approved, it will be the first of its sort in the United States since the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling established abortion rights nationally.
Republican-led states have been enacting harsher abortion restrictions hoping that a future Supreme Court ruling will overturn or modify Roe v. Wade. find out more
A case concerning a Republican-backed Mississippi abortion ban is set to be decided by the Supreme Court by the end of June. Conservative justices indicated that they were willing to restrict abortion rights during oral arguments significantly.
Oklahoma’s four abortion clinics were preparing for Thursday’s legislative action, which might force them to stop performing abortions altogether.
On Thursday, Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights advocacy groups filed two lawsuits in Oklahoma courts, trying to stop the new six-week ban and a near-total ban imposed earlier this month that threatens providers with prison.
Dr. Shelly Tien said she knew that the surgical and medication abortions she performed earlier this week at the Trust Women clinic in Oklahoma City could be her last in the state. Tien visits the facility once a month from Florida. find out more
“It makes me very sad that I won’t be able to return and care for those patients,” she expressed her regret.
She added that more than half of her patients this week were from Texas. After their home state’s six-week restriction went into force last fall, Oklahoma became a popular destination for women from Texas wishing to end their pregnancies.
Trust Women has started booking more patients for abortions at its sister clinic in Wichita, Kansas, which is about two hours away by car, in recent weeks, according to spokesperson Zack Gingrich-Gaylord.
In preparation for an influx of patients from Oklahoma, the Wichita clinic has hired approximately a half-dozen more abortion doctors, is hiring support staff, and expanding the number of days abortions are performed. In Kansas, abortion is permitted up to the 20th week of pregnancy.
According to Gingrich-Gaylord, the Oklahoma City clinic has some medication abortion appointments set for next week, but they are contingent on when the governor signs the ban.
Before it can be sent to the governor, the House must first adopt revisions to the near-total ban.