Count Oklahoma among the states that will nearly outlaw all abortions in the event the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
Passed in the Oklahoma House on Thursday with a vote of 73-16, the bill aims to have the strictest anti-abortion laws in the nation, banning the practice after conception with only a few exceptions thereafter for rape and incest, but only if such a crime has been reported to law enforcement. Similar to the Texas law, the bill also allows other citizens to file a lawsuit against anyone who “aids or abets” someone in having an abortion. Per the New York Times:
The measure is modeled on a law that took effect in Texas in September, which has relied on civilian instead of criminal enforcement to work around court challenges. Because of that provision — the law explicitly says state authorities cannot bring charges — the U.S. Supreme Court and state courts have said they cannot block the ban from taking effect, even if it goes against the constitutional right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade.
The Oklahoma ban goes further than the Texas law, which bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.
“There can be nothing higher or more critical than the defense of innocent, unborn life,” Republican State Rep. Jim Olsen said on the Oklahoma House floor Thursday.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has already pledged to sign the bill into law. Should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, as the leaked decision appears to promise, Oklahoma will become the most pro-life state in the union. Abortion supporters decried the legislation as a precursor of things to come.
“This isn’t a fire drill,” said Emily Wales, the president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Great Plains. “This is not a rehearsal for what’s to come. We are living in this real world right now. The Supreme Court will finalize that this summer.”
“Legislation like this, on the surface, says that we are going to end abortion in our state,” said Democrat State Rep. Trish Ranson. “The manner in which it chooses to do so is punitive, it’s speculative and it draws the worst of us together.”
Democrats also took issue with the abortion exception for rape and incest, arguing that young women and girls do not often report such crimes.
“Can you explain to me why you’re OK with a person carrying on a pregnancy after they have been raped or there has been instances of incest?” Oklahoma Democrat Cyndi Munson asked on the House floor. “You understand what incest is, correct? You are OK with that?”
“I am OK with preserving the life of the child,” responded Republican Wendi Stearman. “The child was not part of that decision.”