Oklahoma passes a Texas-style abortion ban

OKLAHOMA BY – Oklahoma House finally gave approval on Thursday for a Texas-style abortion ban that bans the procedure after about six weeks of pregnancy before many women know they are pregnant.

The bill approved by the GOP-led House without discussion or debate now goes to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who is expected to sign it within days. The intervention against abortion rights is one of several culture war issues that conservatives in GOP-led states have addressed, such as restricting LGBTQ rights that drive the party’s base in an election year.

A coalition of Oklahoma abortion providers and advocates for abortion rights immediately filed separate lawsuits in state court over both the Texas-style ban and a separate bill that Stitt signed earlier this month to make abortion a crime. Legal experts say it is likely that both measures could be suspended before they take effect.

House members also voted Thursday to adopt a new language banning transgender students from using school toilets that match their gender identity and requiring parental notice prior to classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“They are all worried that their choice will come and make sure they have something they can put on a postcard to talk about,” the rep said. Andy Fugate, a Democrat from Midwest City.

The Abortion Act, called the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act, prohibits the procedure when cardiac activity can be detected in an embryo, which experts say is about six weeks into a pregnancy. A similar bill passed in Texas last year led to a dramatic reduction in the number of abortions performed in that state, with many women going to Oklahoma and other surrounding states to have the procedure.

Like Texas law, Oklahoma law would allow private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps a woman get an abortion for up to $ 10,000. After the U.S. Supreme Court allowed this mechanism to remain in place, other Republican-led states tried to copy Texas’ ban. Idaho’s governor signed the first copy measure in March, though it has been temporarily blocked by the state Supreme Court.

Although Stitt has already signed a bill this year to make abortion a crime in Oklahoma, that measure is not set to take effect until this summer. But the ban approved by Parliament in a 68-12 vote on Thursday has an “emergency” provision that allows it to take effect immediately after the governor signs it.

Abortion providers say it will terminate most abortions in Oklahoma immediately unless a court intervenes.

“The Oklahoma Supreme Court has repeatedly found that the state legislature’s extreme attempts to restrict abortion are unconstitutional, and these bans are some of the most extreme to date,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.

A separate bill that uses the Texas-style enforcement mechanism to ban all abortions, not just after cardiac activity is detected, the Senate passed Thursday, going to Parliament for consideration. The bills are among more than half a dozen anti-abortion measures introduced in the Legislative Assembly this year.

“We are more concerned at this point about these Texas-style bans because, at least recently, they have been able to continue and remain in effect,” said Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood. Great Plains, which operates two abortions. clinics in Oklahoma. “We intend to challenge them if they are passed, but because of the provisions of the emergency clause, there would at least be a period when we could not offer care.”

Before the Texas ban went into effect last year, about 40 women from Texas had abortions performed in Oklahoma each month, according to data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health. That number rose to 222 women in Texas in September and 243 in October, the agency reported.

“We’re serving as many Texans as the Oklahomans right now, in some cases more Texans than the Oklahomans,” Wales said.

Tony Lauinger, president of the Oklahomans for Life and longtime advocate for abortion in the state, said he is optimistic the measure will be considered constitutional.

“It’s identical to the bill that was passed by the Texas Legislature last year, and that bill has been passed by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Lauinger said. “We hope this bill will also save the lives of more unborn children here in Oklahoma.”

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