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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As the nation awaits a US Supreme Court ruling on a Mississippi case that could change laws for abortion access nationwide, Oklahoma lawmakers continue to push through anti-abortion bills they hope will hold up in the courts.

Last week, a bill was approved by a House committee that allows for civil lawsuits against doctors who perform abortions once a heartbeat is detected.

Today, a similar bill went through a Senate committee, but this one starts from conception.

“From heartbeat vs. from conception means quite a few weeks of differentiation which means we can save more lives,” said Senator Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow.

That conception bill, HB 4327, was heard in State Senate Committee on Monday after the House approved it in March.

It would also allow for civil lawsuits to be filed by any Oklahoman against anyone who performs aides or abets in an abortion.

“It does not criminalize abortion, it just creates judicial gymnastics to allow for a workaround,” said Tamya Cox-Toure of ACLU Oklahoma. “This bill goes further than the Texas law which makes it one of the most restrictive laws in the country.”

The language is similar to the one from the Lone Star State though, and that gives Oklahoma bill authors confidence that it will stand up in court.

“I’m hopeful. I think it’s very well written and has withstood any significant challenge in Texas for 8 months,” said Rep. Wendi Stearman of Collinsville.

The plaintiff could get $10,000 dollars in damages if they win their suit.

“So, if I made donation to an abortion fund, like the Roe Fund, would somebody be able to sue me for 10-thousand dollars?” asked Sen. Carrie Hicks of Oklahoma City.

“That would be aiding and abetting, potentially yes,” said Sen. Nathan Dahm.

Opponents say that lawsuits will have unintended consequences.

“In Texas, we are seeing folks that are in jail, that are incarcerated, bringing lawsuits against providers because this could potentially bring money to them,” said Cox-Toure.

“Financial independence for women, access to contraception and comprehensive sexual education are the three strongest methods for reducing abortions in any state and we are not seeing any of those provisions in this legislation is that correct?” questioned Hicks.

While opponents question the comprehensiveness of the bill, Republican lawmakers say the eight abortion-related bills moving through the legislature currently will cover all their bases.

“It would be good to be prepared – to have as many options as possible – to end abortion in Oklahoma once the Supreme Court makes the decision on the Mississippi case,” said Dahm.

HB 4327 passed through Senate Committee 6-3 Monday. It’s expected to pass on the Senate Floor.

Dahm tells KFOR when it comes to heartbeat vs conception, the last bill the Governor signs will take precedence.

Speaking of the Kevin Stitt, he is scheduled to sign a bill at the State Capitol Tuesday that would criminalize the performance of abortions.


Oklahoma Politics