Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt Signs Near-Total Abortion Ban into Law

Under Senate Bill 612, abortions are only allowed if the mother’s life is at stake

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signs into law a bill making it a felony to perform an abortion
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signing SB 612 into law on April 12. Photo: Sue Ogrocki/AP/Shutterstock

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has officially signed the state's restrictive abortion bill into law, banning abortions in almost all cases and making performing them a felony.

"I promised Oklahomans that I would sign every pro-life bill that hits my desk and that's what we're doing today," Stitt, a Republican, said at the signing ceremony Tuesday.

"As governor, I represent all 4 million Oklahomans, and they overwhelmingly support protecting life in the state of Oklahoma," he continued. "We want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country. We want to outlaw abortion in the state of Oklahoma."

Stitt said that he and his fellow Republicans expect that the motion will be "challenged immediately," but won't give up their fight.

Last week, lawmakers in the Sooner State passed Senate Bill 612, which only allows abortions if the mother's life is at stake. All other exceptions are outlawed, including cases of rape and incest, regardless of how far along a pregnancy is. Anyone who performs an abortion could be charged with a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

The new legislation is expected to take effect in late August, if it is not blocked by the courts, per The Washington Post.

Abortion Ban Oklahoma
Emily Wales, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, speaks to abortion rights advocates outside the Oklahoma Capitol. Sean Murphy/AP/Shutterstock

Planned Parenthood, which currently runs two of the four remaining clinics offering abortions in Oklahoma, have said that they plan to fight the law.

"This ban is more in line with the traditional bans that have been blocked in the past," Emily Wales, interim president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, told The New York Times last week. "So we are fairly confident that, as long as Roe remains the law of the land, there is a path to blocking this."

Meanwhile, critics are crying that the bill is unconstitutional

"It has never been more obvious that politicians are using tricks and games to pass these harmful laws," said Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Texas and Oklahoma, who also serves as a board member at Physicians for Reproductive Health, per the Associated Press. "Oklahoma legislators are trying to ban abortion from all sides and merely seeing which of these dangerous, shameful bills they can get their governor to sign."

Rep. Jim Olsen, a Republican who wrote the bill, said that their intention is that the bill would coincide with the Supreme Court's decision on Mississippi's ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Oklahoma's expectation, along with that of multiple other Republican-led states that have enacted restrictive abortion laws in the last year, is that the newly-conservative Supreme Court will overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that established the right to abortion with the Mississippi decision, and therefore make their legislation legal.

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