Updated Apr 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Oklahoma governor signs bill making nearly all abortions illegal

Picture of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R). Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) on Tuesday signed into law a bill that makes providing an abortion a felony.

Driving the news: The legislation bans all abortions unless they're necessary to save a pregnant person's life. A person found guilty of providing an abortion would face up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000.

  • Oklahoma's S.B. 612 has no exceptions for rape or incest and is set to go into effect this summer.
  • The person receiving the abortion would not be criminally liable.

Catch up fast: The bill's passage last week was unexpected, as the Oklahoma state House approved it a year after it was introduced and cleared by the state Senate.

Be smart: The bill's signature comes as state lawmakers are considering another near-total abortion ban modeled after Texas' law barring the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy.

  • That bill, H.B. 4327, would incentivize private citizens to sue anyone suspected of helping a person get an abortion for a reward of at least $10,000.
  • If it is signed into law, the bill would go into effect immediately.

What they're saying: "I promised Oklahomans that I would sign every pro-life bill that hit my desk, and that's what we're doing here today," Stitt said in an event Tuesday morning, joined by several anti-abortion groups.

  • "We want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country. We want to outlaw abortion in the state of Oklahoma."
  • Stitt acknowledged the likely legal challenges ahead. Oklahoma Attorney General John O'Connor said that he looks forward to "defending this law."

"Oklahoma's total abortion ban is blatantly unconstitutional and will wreak havoc on the lives of people seeking abortion care within and outside the state," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, an abortion rights group.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the law "the country’s most restrictive legislation regulating access to reproductive health care."

  • "This unconstitutional attack on women’s rights is just the latest and one of the most extreme state laws signed into law to date," she added.
  • "Make no mistake: the actions today in Oklahoma are a part of disturbing national trend attacking women’s rights and the Biden Administration will continue to stand with women in Oklahoma and across the country."

Between the lines: Oklahoma abortion providers have seen an increase in patients from Texas seeking abortion care.

  • Planned Parenthood clinics in the state reported a 2,500% increase in Texas patients compared to the previous year during the first four months of the state's six-week ban being in effect.
  • Stitt said that this bill "will take care" of Texans crossing state borders to obtain abortion care, adding: "We certainly don't want Texans coming up to Oklahoma."

Zoom out: The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering a case that could throw the future of Roe v. Wade — which established the right to an abortion — into question.

  • A decision on this case is expected as soon as June.

What we're watching: The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood will challenge the law.

  • "We’ve sued the state of Oklahoma ten times in the last decade to protect abortion access and we will challenge this law as well to stop this travesty from ever taking effect," Northup said.

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