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Oklahoma Bans Nearly All Abortions After Fertilization

May 19, 2022 by Dan McCue
Oklahoma Bans Nearly All Abortions After Fertilization
An abortion rights march extends down the streets during a demonstration from the National Mall to the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, Saturday, May 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Legislature on Thursday passed the nation’s strictest abortion law to date, banning almost all abortions from the moment of conception.

The bill itself was modeled on a law that took effect in Texas in September. Like the Texas law, it relies on citizens to enforce the ban to skirt lawsuits over states violating privacy rights.

The Texas law, however, only bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.

If, as expected, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signs the bill, it would cut off an option for Texas women who have been flooding across the state border the past eight months to seek legal procedures.

Its passage comes as the nation waits for the Supreme Court to formally release its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a decision that is now expected to overturn Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right to an abortion.

A draft opinion leaked from the court earlier this month suggests its conversative wing had agreed to overturn Roe in a preliminary vote.

Oklahoma apparently isn’t taking any chances. In addition to the bill voted on Thursday, it also has a trigger ban on the books that would begin immediately if Roe is struck down, as well as another abortion ban that has been languishing since the Roe decision in 1973.

The measure in Oklahoma would subject abortion providers and anyone else who aids or abets a woman getting an abortion to civil suits by ordinary citizens.

If the lawsuit is successful, the plaintiff would receive awards of at least $10,000 and compensatory damages.

The Oklahoma legislation does provide some exemptions from the all-out ban, including those carried out to save the life of the unborn child or the life of the mother in a medical emergency. It also allows abortion if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest — so long as the crime has been reported to law enforcement.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and @DanMcCue

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