People seeking abortions in Oklahoma will now have to go elsewhere for the medical procedure. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, HB 4327, on May 25, effectively banning it from the moment of conception.
The law makes performing abortions in the state illegal, with few exceptions, including miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and rape and incest if reported to the police.
Stitt released a statement after signing the legislation into law.
“I promised Oklahomans that as governor I would sign every piece of pro-life legislation that came across my desk and I am proud to keep that promise today,” he said in a written statement.
“From the moment life begins at conception is when we have a responsibility as human beings to do everything we can to protect that baby’s life and the life of the mother. That is what I believe and that is what the majority of Oklahomans believe. If other states want to pass different laws, that is their right, but in Oklahoma we will always stand up for life,” Stitt wrote.
In response to the ban, the Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Blake Patton of Walding & Patton, filed a challenge in Oklahoma state court to block the total ban from taking effect.
The Center said the impact of this ban would be immediate and profoundly harmful.
“Research shows that women who are denied wanted abortion care experience long-lasting harm that impacts their financial security and physical and mental health,” The Center said.
“Women unable to access care experience an increase in household poverty lasting at least four years and struggle to cover basic expenses like food, housing and transportation for years to come. They are more likely to stay in contact with a violent partner and experience long-term health problems,” The Center said.
NARAL Pro-Choice American, a reproductive rights group for over 50 years, condemned Oklahoma’s ban on abortions and its empowering citizens to act as vigilantes against those who seek abortion care.
The group said the legislation serves as the first total ban on abortion with a vigilante enforcement mechanism to be signed into law in the country, signaling a dangerous escalation of an already cruel and dystopian ban.
“In the span of just a few months, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed into law multiple draconian abortion bans, making clear that anti-choice lawmakers aren’t waiting for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe before acting to eliminate abortion access for millions of people,” NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju said.
“Building on a cruel ban in Texas, this devastating ban signals a terrifying future for reproductive freedom. This extreme law will not only harm Oklahomans but the millions of people who live in surrounding states whose options for abortion care are rapidly diminishing thanks to the relentless attacks waged by anti-choice lawmakers. It’s clear that these anti-choice lawmakers will not stop until they completely eviscerate reproductive freedom,” Timmaraju said.
NARAL Pro-Choice America said Oklahoma’s ban on abortion represents part of a broader onslaught of attacks on abortion access across the country.
The ban comes as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hand down a decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – a case regarding Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban – that directly challenges Roe v. Wade.
A recent leak of the Court’s draft majority opinion confirmed that the Court is poised to overturn Roe and end the U.S. constitutional right to abortion.
“As with all attacks on reproductive freedom, the people who will be hurt most by the abortion bans in Oklahoma are those who already face barriers to accessing abortion care including women, Black, Indigenous and other people of color, those working to make ends meet, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, young people, those living in rural communities and people with disabilities,” Timmaraju said.
“If Roe fell tomorrow, 28 states are expected to take action to prohibit abortion outright. Of those, 13 states, including Oklahoma, already have “trigger bans” in place which would ban abortion automatically,” she said.