The Oklahoma legislature on Thursday passed the strictest abortion ban in the nation, The New York Times reports.
The Oklahoma House voted 73-16 to pass a bill that bans nearly all abortions beginning from the moment of “fertilization.”
The bill also allows citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion.
Gov. Kevin Stitt has vowed to sign the bill into law.
“There can be nothing higher or more critical than the defense of innocent, unborn life,” Republican State Representative Jim Olsen said.
Goes further than Texas:
The bill was modeled on Texas’ near-total abortion ban that allowed residents to sue providers or anyone that helps a woman get an abortion after six weeks in an effort to get around court challenges.
The Oklahoma bill goes even further than Texas, effectively banning nearly all abortions.
The bill defines an unborn child as a “human fetus or embryo in any stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.”
It’s unclear whether the Supreme Court will uphold the Texas or Oklahoma laws but the court is widely expected to strike down Roe v. Wade protections later this year.
Democrats sound the alarm:
“Legislation like this, on the surface, says that we are going to end abortion in our state,” said Democratic State Representative Trish Ranson. “The manner in which it chooses to do so is punitive, it’s speculative and it draws the worst of us together.”
The bill makes exceptions for victims of rape or incest but only if the crimes were reported to law enforcement.
“This isn’t a fire drill,” said Emily Wales, the president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Great Plains. “This is not a rehearsal for what’s to come. We are living in this real world right now. The Supreme Court will finalize that this summer.”