The Sooner State just gave abortion a sooner end to its existence in Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill that would outright ban abortion in the state. The bill, House Bill 4327, was approved in a landslide vote, with 73 yeas, 16 nays, and 11 abstentions. Under HB4327, there are exceptions for the life of the mother as well as rape and incest. The bill allows Oklahoma civilians to file civil cases against abortion providers. The “aiding and abetting” clause of the bill further extends civil litigation against anyone found to have assisted with an abortion. Plaintiffs can claim a minimum reward of $10,000 in compensation if sufficient evidence shows that the defendant was attempting to perform an abortion or assist an abortion provider. The bill is set to be immediately enacted once it is signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt.
The successful passage of the bill is due to extensive efforts by anti-abortion Republicans in the Oklahoma Legislature. Oklahoma state Rep. Wendi Stearman, the author of HB4327, asked her fellow lawmakers: “Is our goal to defend the right to life or isn’t it?” Stearman made her anti-abortion stance clear, stating, “I value life, and it should never be permitted by law to take the life of a child born or unborn.”
Gov. Kevin Stitt will likely sign the bill soon due to his strong anti-abortion stance. In April, he signed another bill, set to be enacted in July, that would make abortion a felony. According to ABC News, Stitt said that he wants Oklahoma “to be the most pro-life state in the country.”
After the bill passed, abortion advocates across the state and nation began to decry it. Planned Parenthood Action said in a tweet: “This ban will take effect as soon as the governor signs the bill, making Oklahoma the first state to outlaw abortion entirely — even while Roe v. Wade still stands.” Other abortion activist organizations such as the Center for Reproductive Rights have announced their intention to challenge any anti-abortion bills in the Oklahoma Supreme Court. On the national level, Vice President Kamala Harris condemned the Oklahoma Legislature, calling the bill “outrageous.” She announced her solidarity with people “who are on the front lines against this war on women’s rights.”
As abortion advocates continue to apply pressure on Stitt and the rest of the Oklahoma government, Oklahoma’s bill is only part of the trend by other Republican states to enact similar bills. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 26 states are likely to implement bans or heavy restrictions on abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, as the recent leak of the opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization suggests it likely will be. Pro-life Republican legislatures, including Louisiana, Missouri, and Arkansas, have recently passed laws that would criminalize abortions. Prior to Oklahoma, Texas passed a similar bill that faced major litigation by pro-abortion advocates who failed to plead their case before both the Texas Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court. Idaho Gov. Brad Little is facing similar opposition from pro-abortion advocates after his recent signing of Idaho’s anti-abortion law in March. In an effort to counter the possibility of any bans or restrictions, states such as Maryland, Colorado, and Vermont have begun the process of holding state referendums to establish abortion as a constitutional right.
Gov. Stitt said in an interview with Fox News, “Oklahomans don’t care what the socialist Democrats in Washington think, and as governor of all 4 million Oklahomans who overwhelmingly support life, I will continue to fight to protect the unborn.”