Oklahoma governor signs bill banning abortions, threatens providers with prison time and fines

By Aysha Qama | 12 April 2022
Daily Kos

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) has signed a bill that makes performing an abortion in the state illegal, as Republican-led states rush to restrict abortion access while the Supreme Court weighs the fate of Roe v. Wade. (Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

GOP majority states are taking jab after jab on abortion rights. States across the country are passing their own versions of Heartbeat Bills or abortion bans that not only limit when abortions are possible but imprison doctors who perform them. While Texas has made headlines for its ban, Oklahoma has taken its ban even further.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday signed a bill that not only bans abortions but threatens those who perform abortions with prison time. The legislation, HB 4327, bans doctors in the state from performing abortions no matter how early in the pregnancy it is. The only exception would be if an abortion is necessary for saving a pregnant woman’s life. There is no exception for rape or incest.

“I promised Oklahomans that I would sign every pro-life bill that hits my desk and that’s what we’re doing today,” Stitt said. “We want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country. We want to outlaw abortion in the state of Oklahoma.”

The bill “in support of protecting lives of unborn children in Oklahoma,” was first passed in the Senate last year and the House earlier this month. In addition to banning abortion, it threatens health care providers with up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine, The Washington Post reported.

Oklahoma legislators have been after abortion for some time, partially due to an increase in abortion-related travel in the state. Last month, an Oklahoma Senate committee passed five anti-abortion measures, including one that barred abortion 30 days after conception, a time in which most pregnancies are not yet detected, the Associated Press reported.

The increase in abortion travel is in part to other state laws banning abortion. Daily Kos reported that Oklahoma saw a nearly 2,500% increase in Texas patients compared to the previous year after Texas’ law was enacted.

Unlike other states, the ban does not have an emergency clause that allows a bill to take effect as soon as the governor signs it. Instead, it is scheduled to take effect this summer—if the courts do not first block it.

“The ban signed today is cruel and if it takes effect this summer, will have a devastating impact on people in Oklahoma, neighboring Texans, as well as an entire region facing attacks on their rights to abortion access,” Melissa Fowler, the National Abortion Federation’s chief program officer, said in a statement, according to Reuters.

According to The Washington Post, if Oklahoma stops providing abortions, women in Texas and Oklahoma will have to seek the procedures in Arkansas, Kansas, or New Mexico. Clinics in those states are reportedly already fully booked.

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