Oklahoma Governor Signs Sweeping Anti-Abortion Legislation
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed a spate of anti-abortion legislation Monday that would make the procedure nearly impossible to access in the state.
The signed pieces of legislation, which are all expected to face court challenges, include a bill revoking the medical license of any doctor who performs an abortion unless it’s done to protect the mother’s life or bodily functions, effectively eliminating all abortion access in the state.
Another bill he signed would require abortion providers to test for a “fetal heartbeat” ― a medically inaccurate and misleading term ― in patients seeking abortions and deny them access to the procedure if one is detected. The law effectively bans abortion around six weeks of pregnancy, which is before most patients even know they’re pregnant.
A third requires doctors who perform abortions be board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology.
“This has been a hard-fought battle, and no one, single bill will end abortion in our state,” Oklahoma state Sen. Julie Daniels, who co-authored two of those bills, said in a statement when they reached Stitt’s desk. “But each of these measures represents one more step in our journey to defend the sanctity of life.”
Abortion providers in Oklahoma, which were already severely limited in the state due to a number of other state laws, say the bills are all unconstitutional. Julie Burkhart, founder and CEO of the Oklahoma abortion clinic Trust Women, said Stitt should expect a legal battle.
“Governor Stitt signed into law radical and unconstitutional measures that will only be thrown out in court,” she said. “He is wasting taxpayer money and violating Oklahoman’s privacy. The people of Oklahoma would be better served by government officials improving health care access for Oklahomans.”
Such court challenges will likely prevent the sweeping anti-abortion legislation from going into effect on Nov. 1 as scheduled. If anti-abortion lawmakers are successful, the legislation will ultimately serve as a test for the U.S. Supreme Court, which is now loaded with conservative justices nominated by former President Donald Trump.
“Roe vs. Wade, number one, is not a law of the land,” Rep. Todd Russ, another co-author of the Oklahoma bills, said in March. “It’s an opinion of a non-elected body of Supreme Court justices that gave an opinion many, many years ago,” he continued, comparing it to the Supreme Court once upholding segregation in an 1896 ruling.
Oklahoma is one of dozens of states to go after reproductive rights this year. Anti-abortion lawmakers with eyes on a Supreme Court battle have attempted to push through hundreds of bills restricting access to the procedure across the country. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), for one, signed a legally dubious bill in March completely outlawing abortion except in cases where the pregnancy poses a risk to the mother’s life.
“These policies are designed to make it harder for people to exist,” PPFA president and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson said when the report came out.
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