Oklahoma House passes near-total abortion ban with threat of prison for providers

Reuters
Oklahoma, US Updated: Apr 06, 2022, 04:17 PM(IST)

Republican-governed states like Oklahoma have passed a series of restrictive abortion measures in recent years. Photograph:( Others )

Story highlights

The state has become a destination for Texas women seeking abortions since Texas in September banned abortions for pregnancies of six weeks or less 

Oklahoma lawmakers on Tuesday (April 5) passed a bill that would make it illegal to perform an abortion in the state except in medical emergencies, penalizing those who do with up to $100,000 in fines and 10 years in prison.

The Republican-controlled state House of Representatives brought the bill to a vote this week, after it was passed last year by the Midwestern state's Senate. It now heads to the desk of Republican Governor Kevin Stitt for signing.

Stitt has signaled his support for anti-abortion legislation. If he signs the measure, it would take effect this summer unless blocked by courts.

An abortion ban in Oklahoma would widen a swath of the country where there is little to no legal abortion access. The state has become a destination for Texas women seeking abortions since Texas in September banned abortions for pregnancies of six weeks or less.

"This bill has no exceptions and would essentially potentially end abortion access in Oklahoma. And what we also know is that for so many reasons, people will have to travel to out of the state to get the care that they need. And we know this because when Texas lost its abortion access, patients traveled to Oklahoma and providers were seeing more Texas patients than they've ever seen before, so this will just continue kind of that domino effect of now Texas and Oklahoma patients going to other states to get care," Tamya (pronounced: tam-EYE-ah) Cox-Toure (pronounced: to-ray), director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, said.

The measure approved on Tuesday states, "a person shall not purposely perform or attempt to perform an abortion except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency."

Republican-governed states like Oklahoma have passed a series of restrictive abortion measures in recent years.

The US Supreme Court is due to rule by the end of June in a case involving a Republican-backed Mississippi law that gives its conservative majority a chance to undermine or even repeal the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. During arguments in the case, the conservative justices signalled a willingness to dramatically curtail abortion rights in America.

Read in App