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Oklahoma’s governor signs the nation’s toughest ban on abortion

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday signed into law the nation’s toughest ban on abortion, making the state the first in the nation to effectively end the availability of the procedure.

State Legislatures authorized The ban will be enforced through civil actions rather than criminal prosecution, similar to a Texas law passed last year. The law, effective immediately upon Stitt’s signature, bans all abortions with few exceptions. Abortion providers have said they will stop performing the procedure once the law is signed.

“I promised Oklahoma that as governor, I would sign every pro-life law that came across my desk, and I’m proud to keep that promise today,” the first-term Republican said in a statement. “From the moment life begins conception is when we as human beings have a responsibility to do whatever we can to protect the life of this baby and the life of the mother. I believe so, and so do the majority of Oklahomans.”

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Abortion providers across the country have braced themselves for the possibility that the new conservative majority on the US Supreme Court could further limit the practice and the was particularly the case in Oklahoma and Texas.

“The impact will be catastrophic for Oklahoma,” said Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst for the Guttmacher Institute, who supports abortion rights. “It will also have serious implications, particularly for Texas patients who traveled to Oklahoma in large numbers after Texas’ six-week abortion ban went into effect in September.”

The bills are part of a aggressive push in Republican-led states restrict abortion rights. It comes on the heels of one Draft opinion leaked by the nation’s Supreme Court, suggesting judges are considering overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nearly 50 years ago.

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The only exceptions in the Oklahoma law intended to save the life of a pregnant woman or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest that has been reported to law enforcement.

The bill specifically authorizes physicians to remove a “dead unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion” or miscarriage, or an ectopic pregnancy, a potentially life-threatening emergency that occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, often in a fallopian tube and in early pregnancy.

The law also doesn’t apply to taking the morning-after pill like Plan B or any form of birth control.

Two of Oklahoma’s four abortion clinics have already stopped offering abortions after the governor signed a six-week ban earlier this month.

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As the state’s two remaining abortion clinics are expected to cease offering their services, it’s unclear what happens to women who fall under one of the exceptions. The law’s author, State Rep. Wendi Stearman, says doctors will be empowered to decide which women are eligible and those abortions will be performed in hospitals. But abortion rights providers and campaigners warn that trying to prove eligibility can prove difficult and even dangerous.

In addition to the already signed Texas-style bill, the measure is one of at least three anti-abortion laws sent to Stitt this year.

Oklahoma law is modeled after a unique Texas law enacted by the US Supreme Court allowed to stay in place which allows individuals to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion. Other Republican-led states attempted to copy Texas’ ban. Governor of Idaho signed the first copycat action in March, although it did locked temporarily by the country’s Supreme Court

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Oklahoma’s third law, scheduled to go into effect this summer, would make performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. This bill contains no exceptions for rape or incest.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/05/25/oklahoma-governor-signs-the-nations-strictest-abortion-ban/ Oklahoma’s governor signs the nation’s toughest ban on abortion

Sarah Y. Kim

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