The Oklahoma state legislature passed a bill this week that will ban almost all abortions in the state — and which could potentially also place restrictions on some types of birth control.
The bill, which passed in the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives on Thursday, bans all abortion procedures from the moment of fertilization onward. The bill does not make any exceptions for victims rape or incest. However, victims of such crimes would only have the right to have an abortion if they submit a police report. (It’s estimated that only 36 percent of rape incidents, nationwide, are ever reported.)
If signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt — a Republican who has vowed to sign all anti-abortion pieces of legislation that reach his desk — it would be enforced using a mechanism that is currently being utilized in Texas; residents will be incentivized to sue abortion providers (or anyone else that helps someone in Oklahoma get an abortion) for sums of $10,000.
The Oklahoma bill would be even more restrictive than Texas’s law, as Texas allows abortions until a person is six week pregnant, while the Oklahoma bill would ban all abortions starting from the moment an egg is fertilized. Medical experts have pointed out that such restrictions are unacceptable. Contrary to what scientists define as pregnancyUntil fertilized eggs have been implanted, a person cannot be considered pregnant.
The inaccurate definition of pregnancy included in the Oklahoma bill means that certain types of birth control — including Plan B and intrauterine devices (IUDs), which prevent fertilized eggs from implanting — could also conceivably be banned.
The Democrats in the state House of Representatives pleaded with their Republican counterparts, who are vastly outnumbered in the chamber to reconsider passing the bill.
“Legislation like this, on the surface, says that we are going to end abortion in our state. The manner in which it chooses to do so is punitive, it’s speculative and it draws the worst of us together,” Democratic state Rep. Trish Ranson said.
The White House also weighed in on the passage of the bill, with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre blasting the legislation as being “extreme.”
“Today’s action by the Oklahoma legislature is the most extreme effort to undo these fundamental rights we have seen to date,” Jean-Pierre saidIn a statement on Thursday.
The highly restrictive bill “is part of a growing effort by ultra MAGA officials across the country to roll back the freedoms we should not take for granted in this country,” she went on.
Far right conservatives “are starting with reproductive rights, but the American people need to know that other fundamental rights, including the right to contraception and marriage equality, are at risk,” Jean-Pierre said.
Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice, a grassroots organization that opposes the bill, had condemned it before the vote. The ban will have far-reaching effects, and will “harm Oklahomans, Texans, and folks around the country,” the organization said in a tweet.
Renee Bracey Sherman is a reproductive justice activist and called on the White House for a proactive stance against this legislation instead of simply sending a bill that will be sent to Congress. eventually get blocked by Republicans and conservative Democrats.
“This is absolutely unconstitutional. It’s time for the President to declare a public health emergency,” Sherman said. “We need to feel the ‘whole of government’ response.”