OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – Controversy continues the day after a bill that would make abortion completely illegal in Oklahoma was passed by the state’s lawmakers.
If signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt, it will become effective immediately.
“As the parent of two young women…I don’t feel like Oklahoma is safe for my kids,” said Ben Ezzell of Enid. “I grew up here [and] I want this to be home.”
“We love it here most of the time,” he added. “But it’s become, in a lot of ways, less tolerant,” he said also citing a shift he noticed in community rapport, going back to the height of the pandemic.
“I wish we were a state that did appreciate the value of diversity,” he added. “Oklahomans are not uniform. Oklahomans are different. There are lots of different folks living in Oklahoma. But do I think that that is represented at our state legislature? No.”
The bill follows the leak of a draft decision earlier this month in the case Roe v. Wade, a decades-old constitutional opinion that protects the right to an abortion; a move Ezzell called “predictable but upsetting.”
Ezzell’s response to the passing of HB 4327 went viral on Twitter.
“Obviously, the leaked Supreme Court opinion is devastating,” he said.
In an interview with KFOR Friday, the bill’s author said the measure sends a clear message.
“Their definition of safe is different from mine [and] I decided [to propose the bill] because it proved to be so effective in Texas,” said Rep. Wendi Stearman of Collinsville, author of HB 4327, citing similarities in the bill’s language to Texas’s near-total abortion law.
Termination is still legal in Texas until about six weeks into gestation.
“I felt it important to recognize life from fertilization,” she added, also noting that the bill as she authored it is a civil enforcement rather than a criminal bill.
“There’s concern that it affects invitro-fertilization,” she added, aiming to separate fact from fiction.
“It will not,” she said. “The bill specifically addresses terminating the pregnancy of a woman.
“This is safe for the unborn child and for the mother.”
There are exceptions to the proposed law, including efforts to save a mother’s life, and for rape and incest, which would have to be reported to law enforcement.
Pondering Friday, the Enid father said he loves Oklahoma, but he has his children to think about.
“My family is invested in this community in a big way,” he said. “[But] what’s my duty as a parent when this is not the only place we have to live?” he added. “I don’t have the opportunity before me today, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it.”