Oklahoma now joins the group of states who have strong laws against abortion. Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signed into law a bill that nearly bans all abortions in Oklahoma on Tuesday. This new law makes performing an abortion procedure a felony.
The bill, SB 612, now bans abortion at all stages except for the case in which a mother’s life is at risk. This bill does not make exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
An abortion provider who breaks this new law is subject to a fine of up to $100,000 and 10 years in prison.
The Oklahoma governor said that he was going to sign “every piece of pro-life legislation that hits our desk.” He said that he wanted to make it clear that Oklahoma chooses life and that they don’t allow abortions in the state now.
Stitt also said that he and state Attorney General John O’Connor know the bill will be challenged by liberal activists from the coast. He said they always want to come into his state and dictate a mandate or challenge the people of Oklahoma’s way of life. But he signed the bill regardless.
The first bill was passed by the Senate last year, but it was shelved for a time. Although it surprised some, the House took up the bill for a vote early this month without debate or questions from the floor. The bill passed the House with a vote of 70 to 14.
Republican State Senator Nathan Dahm said, “SB 612 is monumental for the unborn in OK. It is the strongest Pro-Life bill in the nation, and I was honored to author it and work with my colleagues in the legislature to get this bill passed.”
This new law reinforces a law that was already on the books in Oklahoma. The previous law bans the abortion procedure except for the case in which the mother’s life is at risk, but violators previously faced a much more lenient sentence if convicted. Where the new law carries a $100,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison, the older law only had a penalty of up to five years in prison.
Just like in other states with similar laws, the implementation of this bill hinges on a coming Supreme Court case to be heard in June. This case will either uphold or significantly weaken the ruling from the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade.
The June case is called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The High Court will rule whether or not to uphold a 2018 Mississippi law that effectively bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Oklahoma Attorney General O’Connor said, “We are cautiously optimistic that the United States Supreme Court is going to pare [ Roe ] back. We know that 60-plus million Americans have been denied the right to life because of the Roe v. Wade and the [ Planned Parenthood v. Casey ] decisions, and it’s about time that we end that tragedy in our nation’s history.”
Governor Stitt is optimistic. He noted that he represents 4 million Oklahomans and they overwhelmingly do not support abortions. He said that they know the law now on the books will be challenged but that the people of his state are excited to see the Supreme Court address this issue and hopefully give it back to the states to decide. Stitt said that is where this issue belongs.
The Supreme Court has a conservative majority and it has given signals that it is willing to hear challenges to Roe v. Wade. This has given a number of states new boldness to pass legislation that prohibits easy access to abortions.
Already in Texas, their new “heartbeat” law has survived legal challenges. The law in Texas gives private citizens the right to sue anyone who has aided and abetted an abortion. The new law in Idaho has a similar plan for enforcement. It is already set to go into effect 30 days after the next Supreme Court ruling.
Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, has spoken out against these new laws. She focused on the new Oklahoma law and said that it is part of a “disturbing national trend attacking women’s rights.” She promised that the Biden administration will continue to stand with women in Oklahoma and defend their freedom to make their own choices.
She better not talk like that in Oklahoma, Idaho, or Texas…they are ready for the Biden administration’s challenges.