Monday, May 16, 2022

Oklahoma has passed one of the strictest abortion bans in the nation

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The Republican-led state house in Oklahoma has a almost total ban on abortion except in cases where the life of the pregnant woman is in danger.

Under the law, anyone who performs an abortion risks up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. The bill, first passed by the Oklahoma Senate last year, was suddenly revived on Tuesday without explanation from Republican lawmakers.

It now goes to Republican administration Kevin Stitt, who has committed to signing anti-abortion law who comes to his desk and has previously described himself as America’s”most pro-life governor

The ban would go into effect 90 days after the state legislature was adjourned in late May, unless the courts intervene. Reproductive rights groups are expected to file legal objections to the ban, which they say is unconstitutional. The 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade recognized the fundamental right of a pregnant woman to request an abortion, but found that states can still impose restrictions on the procedure to protect the health of the pregnant woman and the possible life of a fetus once it can survive outside the womb .

These legal challenges may be successful as the bill is recently similar to other laws in Oklahoma knocked down by the state Supreme Court, including laws restricting drug abortion, suspending the licenses of physicians who perform abortions, and prohibiting abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. But if the US Supreme Court were overthrown? Roe v. Wadeas widely expected, the new ban could survive.

“With barely any notice, the Oklahoma legislature has revived a law that is clearly unconstitutional and violates the clear precedent of the Oklahoma Supreme Court,” Rabia Muqaddam, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. statement. “The Oklahoma Supreme Court has found time and again that the state’s attempts to restrict abortion are unconstitutional, as this total abortion ban is clear.”

The bill’s approval came as a surprise to abortion rights advocates in the state, who saw it as a political statement in response to their “Bans Off Oklahoma” rally in the state capital on Tuesday. The measure was put on the agenda quite late in the legislative session on Tuesday and passed the same day with little time for debate.

“This bill came out of nowhere,” said Tamya Cox-Touré, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma. “This was a direct reflection of 350 people coming together to demand that access to abortion be protected. And this was their retribution.”

For the few remaining abortion providers in Oklahoma, the bill would be catastrophic. There are only four such facilities in the entire state, where demand has soared since September last year, when neighboring Texas banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Trust Women — which operates an Oklahoma City clinic that offers medication and surgical abortions up to the current legal limit of 21.6 weeks — has seen a 2,500 percent increase in patient numbers. Although the clinic has doubled the number of days of the week it opens from two to four, patients may still have to wait two to four weeks for an abortion, sometimes forcing them to travel to other states if it gives them more time. period when it is legal to have an abortion in Oklahoma.

“It’s been non-stop. We now mainly see patients from out of state,” said Myfy Jensen-Fellows, Trust Women’s director of advocacy. “This has implications for the entire region.”

It’s not the last anti-abortion measure being considered in this session of the Oklahoma legislature. The state senate has already successful the so-called Oklahoma Heartbeat Act, which is a copy of a Texas ban that allows any private individual to sue doctors who perform abortions after fetal heart activity can be detected (usually about six weeks after delivery), except in the case of a medical emergency. The House of Representatives will debate that bill in committee on Wednesday.

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