Where Things Stand: Oklahoma Legislature Passes Most Restrictive Abortion Ban In America

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WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: Governor Kevin Stitt (R-OK) speaks during a roundtable at the State Dining Room of the White House June 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump held a roundtable discussion with Governo... WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: Governor Kevin Stitt (R-OK) speaks during a roundtable at the State Dining Room of the White House June 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump held a roundtable discussion with Governors and small business owners on the reopening of American’s small business. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Oklahoma has completely tossed the “weeks” component of the abortion debate.

A bill that would make it illegal to perform an abortion in Oklahoma quietly passed the state House today by a 70-14 vote. The same Republican-backed bill passed the Oklahoma Senate last year, according to the Washington Post, meaning the bill is now headed to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk.

If passed, it will become the most restrictive abortion ban in the country.

Stitt has signaled he’s down to sign it into law, but there’s a bit of a catch — if/when he signs it, it won’t officially become law until this summer when the state legislature adjourns, giving abortion advocates a brief window to put together legal challenges to the measure. But if it is not blocked by the courts, it’ll become law conveniently around the same time that the Supreme Court is set to rule on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban.

While that case is framed around the 15-week cutoff that challenges federal precedent, abortion advocates who followed oral arguments in December warned that there’s no world in which the high Court upholds the Mississippi 15-week ban and allows Roe to stay intact. The Court’s conservative justices signaled a willingness to overturn the precedent, cementing fears that the landmark 1973 ruling was the uber-conservative Court’s true target in deciding to take up the Mississippi case.

And so, states like Oklahoma and others around the nation are preparing for the impending death of Roe, passing increasingly egregious, dangerous and restrictive abortion bans into law at the state level to get ahead of the curve, preparing for the time when the right to have an abortion is tossed back to the states.

If Oklahoma’s outright ban on the procedure isn’t blocked by the courts, it’ll become law this summer, making performing an abortion entirely illegal, whether a person is one week, six weeks or 15 weeks pregnant — any procedure under the timeframe of fetal viability will be illegal for providers. Punishments will include a $100,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison. The only exception for performing an abortion in Oklahoma: if the mother’s life is in danger.

And if left unchallenged by the courts, the law will block off not just Oklahomans’ access to the procedure, but it’ll further limit the options for Texans who are already weathering the dystopian consequences of the state’s bounty-hunter style six-week ban. According to a new University of Texas at Austin study cited by the Post, Oklahoma has provided services for nearly half of the Texans who have had to leave the state to get an abortion since September when the six-week ban became law.

While providers scramble to address the growing need in Oklahoma, the influx of Texans seeking abortions in Oklahoma in recent months might’ve played a role in the bill’s passage — it’s a growing phenomenon that legal experts tell TPM will continue, as anti-abortion lawmakers seek to police the procedure, and constituents, across state lines.

“A state of emergency exists in Oklahoma,” state Senate President Greg Treat (R) recently told the Post. “It’s sickening.”

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