Across the country, GOP majority states have taken to targeting reproductive rights. Multiple states have passed their own versions of the Heartbeat Bill or abortion bans that not only severely limit when abortions are possible but disregard circumstances, including rape. The latest state to join this horrific trend is Oklahoma, in which the state House passed a bill on Tuesday to ban all abortions unless it's necessary for saving a pregnant person's life, CNN reported.
The legislation, HB 4327, would ban doctors in the state from performing abortions no matter how early in the pregnancy it is. The only exception would be if an abortion is necessary for saving a pregnant woman’s life. Additionally, it would also allow citizens to sue abortion providers for up to $10,000 if they help end a pregnancy.
The bill is similar to that of Texas’ abortion policies, in which citizens can sue anyone involved in aiding a woman with pregnancy after six weeks. This enforcement by citizens and not officials in a sense protects the state government from legal challenges. However, while similar to Texas in all forms since it bans abortion at any stage, the Oklahoma bill is seen as the strictest bill to pass in the country.
State legislators have been targeting abortion for some time. Last month, the Oklahoma Senate committee passed five anti-abortion measures, including one that barred abortion 30 days after conception, a time in which most women are unaware that they are pregnant, the Associated Press reported.
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This followed an increase in abortion-related travel in the state. According to Axios, many Texans have been traveling to Oklahoma to get abortions. Planned Parenthood noted that Oklahoma saw a nearly 2,500% increase in Texas patients compared to the previous year after Texas' law was enacted. The bill thus signed into law will impact not only Oklahoma but other states’ residents severely.
Oklahoma’s bill comes at a time when other states have passed their own version of restrictive abortion laws, including Missouri going as far as to ban residents from seeking abortions out of state, Daily Kos reported. GOP-dominant states are stopping at nothing to get advances in their anti-life policies.
"This is a dark moment for Oklahomans and their ability to control their own bodies and futures and will have ripple effects throughout the region," Jessica Arons, senior policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement Tuesday. "After seeing the devastation caused by Texas' draconian abortion ban, Oklahoma politicians have taken the unconscionable step of imposing an even harsher ban on pregnant people seeking this essential health care."
The bill, which passed the state House by a 78-19 vote, is now headed to the state Senate.