Lawmakers in Oklahoma on Tuesday approved a near-total ban on abortion, making it the latest Republican-led state to Forge ahead with stringent abortion legislation as the Supreme Court weighs a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade later this year.
The measure, Senate Bill 612, would make Performing an abortion “except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency” a felony punishable by up to 10 years in Prison
The Oklahoma House voted 70 to 14 to send the bill, which passed the Senate last year, to the Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican who promised in September to sign “every piece of pro-life legislation” that came to his desk.
If Mr. Stitt signs the bill, it would take effect on Aug. 26, according to the Senate clerk’s office.
Its passage came after Oklahoma became a major destination for women from Texas who were seeking abortions after that state enacted a law banning the procedure after about six weeks, a very early stage of pregnancy.
“If allowed to take effect, SB 612 would be devastating for both Oklahomans and Texans who continue to seek care in Oklahoma,” said Tamya Cox-Touré, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma.
“Nearly half of the patients in Oklahoma providers are currently seeing are medical refugees from Texas,” Ms. Cox-Touré said in a statement. “Now, Oklahomans could face a future where they would have no place left in their state to go to seek this basic health care.”
Representative Jim Olsen, a Republican from Roland, and the House author of the bill, said the bill was enacted in anticipation of a pending Supreme Court decision on a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
If the court upholds that law, it could upend Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion and that prohibited states from banning the procedure before fetal viability, or around 23 weeks.
From Florida to Idaho, Republican-led state legislatures have been operating as though Roe has already been struck down, advancing restrictions that aim to make abortion illegal in many circumstances as possible.
“Obviously, I’m thrilled because we have the potential of seeing many lives of babies saved – part of that depends on future court rulings” like the one in the Mississippi case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mr. Olsen said.
He got the bill passed without any floor debate.
“Nobody debated and nobody asked any questions,” he said. “I was actually kind of shocked.”
Emily Wales, interim president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood in the Great Plains, received an anti-abortion lawmakers approved the bill as lawmakers who support abortion rights were outside the State Capitol, speaking at a “Bans off Oklahoma” Rally.
She said the bill was one of a series of anti-abortion measures advancing in Oklahoma, including one that mirrors the Texas law, which effectively deputizes citizens to Sue Clinics and others who violate the law.