On Thursday, the Oklahoma legislature passed a near-total abortion ban. The law also allows private citizens to sue anyone who helps a woman get an abortion.
The legislation, House Bill 4327, restricts abortions from the moment of "fertilization," with exceptions for pregnancies conceived from incest or rape or when the mother's life is at risk. It also does not prevent the use of contraception or emergency contraception.
As reported by Reuters, the bill will immediately go into effect once Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signs it into law. The law will be the most restrictive abortion ban in the country. It will also allow private citizens to sue anyone helping a woman terminate her pregnancy for $10,000.
Stitt, who is pro-life, said he is willing to sign any anti-abortion bills that reach his desk. Earlier this month, he signed a Texas-style heartbeat bill banning abortions after a heartbeat is detected, generally around six weeks of gestation.
The news of the abortion ban was praised by pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List. "Oklahomans are sending a strong message that all unborn children and their mothers in the Sooner State deserve urgent protection from the brutality of abortion. Science shows beyond the shadow of a doubt that unborn babies are human beings, with beating hearts by six weeks and the ability to feel pain by 15 weeks," SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement.
"Oklahoma's strong pro-life protections could save as many as 3,800 lives a year," she noted. "In contrast to the Biden-Harris administration that gives abortionists a platform to push a radical agenda, Governor Stitt and the legislature are standing up for the will of the people who overwhelmingly want to protect their most vulnerable citizens," she added.
Trust Women, a pro-choice organization with an abortion clinic in Oklahoma City, however, condemned the pro-life legislation, calling it "gratuitous and cruel."
"Our patients are frightened, confused about the new reality they now live in," the clinic said in a statement.
The bill was also condemned by Vice President Kamala Harris, who called the measure "outrageous" during a virtual meeting with abortion providers and activists on Thursday.
"And it's just the latest in a series of extreme laws around the country," she said. "Several of the medical professionals joining us today are seeing the impact of these laws that are designed to punish and control women."
This is a critical moment for reproductive rights. Today I am meeting with abortion providers and leading advocates who are on the frontlines of the war on women's rights. Tune in. https://t.co/htVSC6PT5P— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) May 19, 2022
Oklahoma's near total-abortion ban passed as many anticipate the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision which legalized abortion in the nation. Earlier this month, a leaked draft opinion showed that the conservative majority ruled in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, which would leave abortion regulations up to the state governments.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.