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Oklahoma Legislature Passes Bill Banning Abortions from the Moment of ‘Fertilization’


Oklahoma Legislature Passes Bill Banning Abortions from the Moment of 'Fertilization' 1

Oklahoma lawmakers passed a bill that would ban abortions from the moment of “fertilization,” essentially outlawing all abortions in the state.

If signed into law, the bill would be the most restrictive ban yet in the United States. It now goes to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican who has vowed to sign any anti-abortion laws that come to his desk.

Under the bill, “fertilization” is defined as when a sperm meets and egg at the moment of conception, meaning a person would be entirely unaware that they are pregnant.

The bill is modeled after Texas’ ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which mobilizes private citizens to act as whistleblowers and file lawsuits against anyone who “performs or induces” an abortion, anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets” an abortion and anyone who simply “intends to engage” in either of the two actions.

Because the bill is enforced by civilians and not criminal enforcement, legal challenges to similar bills like Texas’ have failed, even though it goes against the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade.

The bill does allow for the use of the Plan B pill, a form of emergency contraception used after intercourse, but not for medical abortions using pills. There are also exceptions for rape or incest, and in cases where it is “necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency.”

Oklahoma’s House voted 73-16 in favor of the bill. “There can be nothing higher or more critical than the defense of innocent, unborn life,” State Representative Jim Olsen, a Republican, said ahead of the vote.

Just two weeks earlier, Stitt had signed a ban on abortions after six weeks into law. That bill does not have exceptions for rape or incest, and is set to take effect on Aug. 26. Along with the two bills, Oklahoma already has a “trigger law” in place that would outright ban abortions in the state if Roe is overturned, which appears likely based on a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court.

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Oklahoma had seen an influx of people seeking abortions from Texas ever since the border state banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy in September. Abortions in Texas have dropped 60% since their ban, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, but the Trust Women clinics in Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kansas said they’ve had an increase. With these bills, abortion seekers would have to travel even further for the procedure.

“This isn’t a fire drill,” said Emily Wales, the president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which has three locations in Oklahoma, all of which have had to stop performing abortions. “This is not a rehearsal for what’s to come. We are living in this real world right now. The Supreme Court will finalize that this summer.”

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