Sooner State jumps on bandwagon ahead of Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson.
Oklahoma lawmakers have passed one of the toughest abortion restrictions in the nation, continuing a pro-life trend ahead of an expected Supreme Court decision this spring that could severely roll back Roe v. Wade, if not overturn it.
Legislators in Oklahoma City okayed a bill that would ban abortions except in cases of medical emergencies. Penalties for violators include up to $100,000 fines and up to 10 years in prison.
The Oklahoma House voted 70 to 14 to pass the bill. It cleared the Senate last year. Gov. Kevin Stitt has indicated his willingness to sign such legislation. His office said that Stitt vowed in September to sign “every piece of pro-life legislation” that came to his desk.
Enactment of the bill would impact women who have been traveling to the Sooner State for abortions from Texas, which passed a law last year severely limiting abortions and allowing any private citizen to sue anyone who provided or facilitated an illegal abortion. Following several actions at the Supreme Court, the law has remained in effect since last September.
A separate abortion ban in Oklahoma, which has not made it as far as the one passed on Tuesday and now heading to the governor’s desk, would similarly allow citizens to enforce the law. Likewise, in March, Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed a bill that allows family members of an aborted child to sue providers who perform abortions past six weeks gestation.
Representative Jim Olsen, a Republican and the author of the new Oklahoma bill, said the measure was enacted in anticipation of a Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, concerning a law that bans abortions after 15 weeks gestation.
“Obviously, I’m thrilled because we have the potential of seeing many lives of babies saved — part of that depends on future court rulings,” such as the one in the Dobbs case, Olsen told the New York Times.
But Tamya Cox-Toure, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, said in a statement, “These harmful bills are an alarming reminder that the days of access to safe and legal abortion may be numbered, and we must continue to fight to guarantee all people have access to the essential health care they need, including abortion.”
Just as a number of states now have pro-life laws on the books, or have passed bills about to take effect, 15 states and the Disrtrict of Columbia have passed legislation guaranteeing that abortion remains legal there, no matter what the outcome is at the Supreme Court this spring. On Monday, Colorado became the latest such state.
The Centennial State’s Reproductive Health Equity Act affirms that pregnant women in Colorado have the right to continue a pregnancy and give birth or have an abortion, and it blocks public entities from denying or restricting that right.
“In the State of Colorado, the serious decision to start or end a pregnancy with medical assistance will remain between a person, their doctor, and their faith,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement after signing the bill into law.