Oklahoma House of Representatives passes near-total abortion ban

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — One of the nation’s toughest anti-abortion bills has been signed into law in Oklahoma.

On April 12, Governor Stitt signed into law Senate Bill 612.

It will now enter into force in August 2022.

Earlier this month, the Oklahoma State House of Representatives passed a state Senate bill from the last session that would essentially make abortions illegal in Oklahoma.

On a day when a large abortion rights rally was scheduled for the Oklahoma State Capitol, House lawmakers passed a bill that essentially serves as an abortion ban.

“Senate Bill 612 would make abortion totally illegal,” Rep. Jim Olsen told the House on Tuesday.

The bill makes it a crime for doctors to perform abortions. They could face up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. The measure passed 70-14 and is now heading to Governor Kevin Stitt’s office.

“Oklahoma has overwhelmingly and repeatedly decided that we don’t want to kill babies. There is no higher purpose for legitimate government than to protect the lives of innocent people,” Olsen said.

Former Governor Mary Fallin vetoed a similar bill in 2016.

The bill was passed moments before pro-choice groups gathered on the southern steps of the capital, with activists arriving by bus with placards and chants.

“A multitude of anti-abortion bills have passed through the House and Senate chambers, and we are here to let people know that it is our body, our future,” said Priya Desai of Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice.

Organizers say at least 20 bills restricting abortion have been introduced this session and 8 are moving forward. Planned Parenthood officials say since Texas passed its restrictive laws seven months ago, they’ve seen more Texans than Oklahomans in their clinics.

“We are doing everything we can to stand up for the patients we serve and all the communities here in Oklahoma who will be affected if we lose abortion here at home,” said Emily Wales of Planned Parenthood Great Plains.

An Oklahoma woman speaks at the State Capitol against a bill that makes abortions illegal in Oklahoma. Picture KFOR

The bill was the only one heard on the floor of the House on Tuesday. Opponents say this is no coincidence.

“It was their flex, but that’s our flex! Our flex is coming together,” said Tamya Cox-Toure of the ACLU Oklahoma.

“It was certainly planned. The legislature knows we are coming together today and there is a level of fear,” Wales said.

“No, there was no coordinated plan to do it on the same day as the Planned Parenthood gathering,” Olsen said.

Olsen said the bill was the only one on the docket on Tuesday because abortion bills typically take a long time, with lots of debate and questions. But Democrats say they didn’t push back on purpose so as not to deprive activists

“I think it was very intentional to try to dilute the voices of those who came together today,” Rep. Emily Virgin said.

SB 612 is now going to the governor’s office for signing. Stitt has been very supportive of anti-abortion legislation since taking office.

The ACLU of Oklahoma calls the bill unconstitutional as it considers legal action.

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