Oklahoma could become the worst state in the nation for women who want to control their own bodies. On Thursday, the state’s legislature approved a bill that bans, in essence, all abortions starting at fertilization, as The New York Times reports.
The bill is similar to the abortion bounty law in Texas, which empowers any private individual to sue anyone who “aids and abets” abortion in Texas after six weeks of gestation. But Oklahoma takes it even further, subjecting anyone who “aids and abets” an abortion to civil suits from private citizens beginning at fertilization. In other words, morning-after pills would also be prohibited. The Oklahoma ban would go into effect immediately if Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signs it. Stitt has vowed to make abortion illegal in Oklahoma.
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“I promised Oklahomans that I would sign every pro-life bill that hits my desk, and that’s what we’re doing today,” Stitt said in April when he signed a bill that made performing an abortion a felony, with perpetrators facing up to 10 years in prison as well as a $100,000 fine. “We want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country. We want to outlaw abortion in the state of Oklahoma.”
Stitt and the state’s Republican-led legislature have been on the same page, passing bans (another ban that goes into effect in late August outlaws abortion entirely, with the sole exception to save the life of the mother) that together have made the state among the nation’s most regressive when it comes to allowing women agency over their own bodies. Republican-led states are competing to revoke reproductive rights as the Supreme Court prepares to overturn Roe v. Wade. Many states have adopted trigger laws, which will outright ban all, or almost all, abortions in at least 13 states once Roe is gone.
The bill passed on Thursday awards those who sue and win $10,000 and compensatory damages. The bill exempts women who get abortions from being directly sued and does not include abortions needed to “save the life of the unborn child” or the life of a mother “in a medical emergency.” Pregnancies resulting from rape or incest are also exempt, though only if the crime was reported to law enforcement.
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