OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – After Oklahoma lawmakers approved some of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country, two separate challenges have been filed in state court.
A coalition of Oklahoma abortion providers and a reproductive justice organization filed two separate challenges in state court to block two abortion bans passed in the Sooner State.
The Oklahoma House gave final approval on Thursday to a Texas-style abortion ban that prohibits abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.
Senate Bill 1503 now heads to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who is expected to sign it soon.
Dubbed the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act, the bill prohibits abortions once cardiac activity can be detected in the fetus, which experts say is roughly six weeks into a pregnancy. A similar bill approved in Texas last year led to a dramatic reduction in the number of abortions performed in that state, sending many women seeking the procedure to Oklahoma and other surrounding states.
“To limit a person’s freedom and autonomy is unconscionable and unconstitutional. Unless these abortion bans are stopped, Oklahomans will be robbed of the freedom to control their own bodies and futures,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “For more than seven months, Oklahoma abortion providers have taken in patients forced to leave Texas for essential care. The governor may joke about stopping people from crossing the Oklahoma border for abortion, but this is no laughing matter. Unless these bans are blocked, patients will be turned away, people seeking abortion will be unable to access essential care in their own communities, and their loved ones could be stopped from supporting them due to fear of being sued. We’ve told Oklahoma politicians loud and clear: keep your bans off our bodies. Today, we’re taking the state to court to stop these bans from robbing Oklahomans of abortion access.”
Earlier this month, Gov. Stitt signed SB 612 into law.
SB 612 would criminalize abortion by making it a felony for doctors to perform abortions. If caught, they would face up to 10 years in jail and a fine up to $100,000.
That measure is not set to take effect until later in the summer.
Because the measure approved Thursday has an “emergency” provision, it takes effect immediately after the governor signs it, and abortion providers say will immediately end most abortions in Oklahoma.
The challenge to SB 1503 was filed directly in Oklahoma Supreme Court.
It was filed against the State of Oklahoma and all 77 state court clerks. The plaintiffs are represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Blake Patton.
The challenge to SB 612, filed in trial court, was added to an existing case challenging other abortion restrictions enacted in 2021 that are currently blocked.
Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice v. O’Connor was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Dechert LLP, and Blake Patton on behalf of other plaintiffs.