Updated May 3, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Oklahoma Gov. signs Texas-style 6-week abortion ban into law

Picture of Abortion rights supporters
Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Sitt (R) signed into law a bill that bans all abortions past the sixth week of pregnancy, before many people know they are pregnant.

Why it matters: Oklahoma is the second state to pass a law modeled after Texas’ six-week abortion ban, which encourages private citizens to sue anyone they suspect has helped a person receive an abortion.

The big picture: Sitt has said it is his goal to make Oklahoma “the most pro-life state in the country.”

  • "I represent all four million Oklahomans who overwhelmingly want to protect the unborn," Sitt said in a tweet.
  • The legislation will take effect immediately.
  • Idaho was the first state to pass and enact a bill like Texas, but it was temporarily blocked by a federal court.

Details: S.B. 1503 incentivizes private citizens to sue anyone who "performs or induces" an abortion, anyone who "aids of abets the performance" of an abortion, or anyone who “intends to engage” in the previous actions but has not yet done so.

  • Citizens would be awarded at least $10,000 “for each abortion that the defendant performed or induced” or that “the defendant aided or abetted” in violation of the bill.
  • The bill explicitly states that whoever is sued in a case cannot say that they consider the bill to be “unconstitutional” as a defense argument in a court of law.
  • It says that if a pregnancy was the result of rape, sexual assault or incest, the perpetrator cannot file a lawsuit. Additionally, a lawsuit cannot be brought against someone who transported a pregnant person to an abortion provider if they are unaware of the abortion.
  • If a person provided an abortion or helped someone get the procedure “at the behest of federal agencies, contractors or employees,” they also cannot be sued.

What's also happening: The Oklahoma state Senate on Thursday is also set to consider another Texas-style abortion ban.

  • Unlike the six-week restrictive law that the state House passed, this one would ban nearly all abortions in the state unless the procedure is necessary to save a pregnant person's life, or in cases of rape or incest.

Between the lines: Earlier this month, the Oklahoma governor signed into law a bill making it a felony to provide an abortion. 

  • That bill is not enforced via private lawsuits. Instead, it says that a person who provides an abortion would face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of as much as $100,000.
  • Oklahoma Attorney General John O'Connor has said that it is important to have laws focusing on both the civil and criminal aspects, emphasizing that laws enforced by private citizens have "not been overturned by the courts."

Zoom out: The U.S. Supreme Court is set to reconsider Roe v. Wade with a decision expected by the end of the term this summer.

Don't forget: Oklahoma is one of the states that has a "trigger law" in place, which is an abortion ban that would kick in right away if the Supreme Court overturns its precedents.

  • State lawmakers passed a bill on Tuesday that would modify the language of its current trigger law to say that abortions would be prohibited in the state if the court “overrules in whole or in part” Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

What we're watching: Planned Parenthood said in a tweet that they "are going to court to stop this ban."

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Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the Gov. Sitt signed the bill into law.

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