Reproductive Rights Advocates Brace for Near-Total Abortion Ban in Oklahoma

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This story originally appeared on common dreams on April 5, 2022. It is shared here with permission under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Reproductive rights advocates braced Tuesday for Kevin Stitt, the Republican governor of Oklahoma, to sign what has been described as a “worse than Texas” abortion ban that would make performing the medical procedure at any stage of pregnancy a crime punishable by up to a decade in prison. .

“Nearly half of the patients Oklahoma providers are currently seeing are medical refugees from Texas,” the groups added. “Now, Oklahomans could face a future where they have no place left in their state to go get this basic health care.”

The New York Times reports the GOP-controlled Oklahoma House of Representatives voted 70-14 to approve Senate Bill 612, which would jail health care providers who perform abortions at any time “except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency” for 10 years or fine them $100,000. The measure, which passed the state Senate last year, is headed to the desk of Stitt, who has pledged to sign “all pro-life laws” he receives.

“If allowed to go into effect, SB 612 would be devastating to both Oklahomans and Texans who continue to seek care in Oklahoma,” reproductive rights groups including the ACLU of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Call for Reproductive said in a statement. Justice.

“Nearly half of the patients Oklahoma providers are currently seeing are medical refugees from Texas,” the groups added. “Now, Oklahomans could face a future where they have no place left in their state to go get this basic health care.”

SB 612 has been compared to SB 8, the Texas law that prohibits abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy and incentivizes private citizens with a $10,000 reward plus legal fees for successfully suing abortion providers or anyone who “aides or abets ” The procedure. The law does not allow exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

However, critics say the Oklahoma bill is even harsher than the Texas ban.

“We’re actually going to be worse off than Texas because this bill would ban access to abortion from conception, while Texas allows for a six-week abortion ban,” said Tamya Cox-Toure, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma. said KTUL.

Cox-Toure said that “Oklahoma providers were seeing a nearly 2,500% increase” in people seeking abortions “because of Texas patients coming to Oklahoma for care.”

Myfy Jensen-Fellows of Trust Women Foundation said KTUL that SB 612 “will make it difficult not just for people in Oklahoma, not just for people in Kansas and Texas, but for the entire region.”

SB 612 is one of numerous state level attacks on reproductive rights, and emerges as the constitutional right to abortion established almost half a century ago in Roe vs. Wade is in danger by the right-wing supermajority of the United States Supreme Court.

State-level abortion bans like SB 12 have stimulated calls that the US Senate pass the House-approved Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify abortion rights across the country.

Responding to the Oklahoma bill, Planned Parenthood Action tweeted“These extremist politicians are willing to turn their own constituents into medical refugees.”

“Abortion is health care,” the group added. “And we will continue to fight for your attention, no matter what.”

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