Politics /

Oklahoma House Approves Law Banning Abortions After Six Weeks

The Oklahoma legislature has approved a bill that would ban abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy.

Oklahoma has seen a rise in women traveling to the state for abortions after they were heavily restricted under a similar law in Texas.

The bill, SB 1503, or the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act, was approved by the Republican-majority House on Thursday with a 68-12 vote.

The bill bans abortions as soon as cardiac activity can be detected, which is around six weeks.

It will now go to Gov. Kevin Stitt, who is expected to sign it into law this week. He has previously vowed to sign any pro-life legislation that hits his desk.

Once signed, the bill will go into effect immediately under an emergency provision — halting access to the procedure even for those who already have appointments scheduled.

Planned Parenthood has vowed to fight the legislation if it is signed, but warned that they will not be able to perform abortions in the meantime.

“We are more concerned at this point about these Texas-style bans because they have, at least recently, been able to continue and remain in effect,” Emily Wales, interim president and CEO at Planned Parenthood Great Plains, told the Associated Press. “We do intend to challenge those if they’re passed, but because of the emergency clause provisions, there would be at least some period of time when we could not offer care.”

Similar to the Texas law, the bill will allow individuals to sue abortion providers and anyone else who helps a woman to obtain an illegal abortion in the state.

The Texas law has caused an uptick in abortions in Oklahoma, as women have been travelling to nearby states for the procedure.

“We’re serving as many Texans as Oklahomans right now, in some cases more Texans than Oklahomans,” Wales said.

The Associated Press reports, “before the Texas ban took effect last year, about 40 women from Texas had abortions performed in Oklahoma each month, according to data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health. That number jumped to 222 Texas women in September and 243 in October.”

Gov. Stitt signed a bill earlier this month that makes performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison, but it will not go into effect until later this summer. It makes an exception to allow the procedure only in cases to save the life of the mother.

“We want to outlaw abortion in the state of Oklahoma,” Stitt said during a signing ceremony for the bill. “I promised Oklahomans that I would sign every pro-life bill that hits my desk, and that’s what we’re doing here today.”

The bill does not allow for charges against a woman for having an abortion.

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