Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday enabled the nation’s strictest abortion laws, honoring an election promise to end availability of the procedure.
Pro-life state lawmakers approved the ban enforced by civil lawsuits rather than criminal prosecution. The legislation is similar to a Texas law passed last year, AP reports.
Under the law from Rep. Wendi Stearman, (R-Collinsville), Oklahoma will become the first state in the nation where nearly all abortions are prohibited. In 2021, 5,950 abortions were performed in the state, according to the Oklahoman.
Representatives from Oklahoma’s four abortion clinics said they would stop, if they had not already, terminating pregnancies immediately upon HB 4327 taking effect.
Before taking office, Stitt vowed to sign all anti-abortion bills that crossed his desk — a promise he has honored.
An Oklahoma state lawmaker will introduce a Texas-style bill that would allow individuals to sue doctors who perform abortions. https://t.co/0TJLS6zQQ4
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“I promised Oklahomans that as governor I would sign every piece of pro-life legislation that came across my desk and I am proud to keep that promise today,” the first-term Republican said in a statement.
“From the moment life begins at conception is when we have a responsibility as human beings to do everything we can to protect that baby’s life and the life of the mother. That is what I believe and that is what the majority of Oklahomans believe.”
The only exceptions in the Oklahoma law are to save the life of a pregnant woman or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest that has been reported to law enforcement.
AP outlined the bill specifically authorizes doctors to remove a “dead unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion,” or miscarriage, or to remove an ectopic pregnancy, a potentially life-threatening emergency that occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, often in a fallopian tube and early in pregnancy.
The law also does not apply to the use of morning-after pills such as Plan B or any type of contraception.
The Oklahoman reports abortion providers and reproductive rights groups have vowed to challenge the law in court where they are suing over two other anti-abortion laws Stitt signed this year.
Center for Reproductive Rights Senior Legal Counsel Rabia Muqaddam said providers will ask the Oklahoma Supreme Court to issue a temporary injunction to halt enforcement of the “blatantly unconstitutional” law.
Oklahoma is one of a growing number of Republican-led states seeking to mirror the basic principles of the Texas Heartbeat Act since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Texas law to remain in effect while lawsuits continue against it.