OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – In late August 2022, Oklahoma is set to have one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. On Tuesday, Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill that makes it a felony to perform an abortion.
This is the first of eight abortion bills to move through the Capitol and be signed by Stitt.
Supporters say it’s government’s role to save lives. Opponents say abortion bans like this one have not stood up in court.
“We want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country and we want to outlaw abortion in the state of Oklahoma,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt.
With lawmakers and faith leaders looking on, Governor Kevin Stitt following through on his promise to sign ‘all pro-life legislation to hit his desk’ Tuesday morning.
SB 612 would criminalize abortion by making it a felony for doctors to perform abortions, facing up to 10 years in jail and a fine up to $100 thousand.
“We value life because our God in heaven values life,” said Rep. Jim Olsen of Roland.
Opponents weighing in from the region and around the nation.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki releasing a statement saying,
“Today, the country’s most restrictive legislation regulating access to reproductive health care was signed into law in Oklahoma. This law makes providing an abortion illegal in the state of Oklahoma, with only a narrow exception for medical emergencies and no exception for rape or incest.
This unconstitutional attack on women’s rights is just the latest and one of the most extreme state laws signed into law to date. Protecting the right recognized in Roe v. Wade continues to be a priority for the Biden-Harris Administration, and we call on Congress to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would shut down these attacks and codify this long-recognized, constitutional right. 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 in the fight to defend their freedom to make their own choices about their futures.”
“I think it’s been clear that the Governor and the legislature want to be the most restrictive state in the country, no matter the cost to the people they serve,” said Emily Wales, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains.
Officials from Planned Parenthood say for the last eight months, they continue to see more Texas patients at their Oklahoma clinics than in-state patients.
Unless the law is blocked, they say they will continue to perform services until the bill takes effect in late August.
“We will do all we can to keep access available,” said Wales.
The State Attorney General, John O’Connor says he is confident this law will stand up in the courts, but says he knows that the Mississippi case at the federal level is the lynch pin.
“The states should have rights to make the decision and that’s what we are hoping the US Supreme Court does, return the decision to the people,” said John O’Connor.
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights countering with the following statement:
“The U.S. Supreme Court’s failure to stop Texas from nullifying the constitutional right to abortion has emboldened other states to do the same. 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. With the Texas six-week ban in place, many people are traveling to Oklahoma to get care. 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.”
“This bill will be challenged immediately by liberal activists from the coast, who always seem to want to come in and dictate and mandate our way or life here in the state of Oklahoma,” said Stitt.
“We are Oklahomans, we live here and pay taxes here, and most importantly, we expect legislators and politicians stay out of healthcare decision,” said Tamya Cox-Toure of ACLU Oklahoma.
Officials with the ACLU of Oklahoma say they are looking into legal action on this and other state abortion bills.
They say criminal-based laws like SB612 have been blocked before.
“We file our cases in Oklahoma State Supreme Court, therefore we believe there are better protections under our laws, state laws, that could insure that our Texas style state laws don’t go into effect,” said Cox-Toure.
This law applies to doctors. The mothers can’t be charged. If not blocked in courts, SB612 would take effect in late August.