Oklahoma lawmakers pass near-total abortion ban

·2 min read
Rep. Wendi Stearman who proposed the bill (AP)
Rep. Wendi Stearman who proposed the bill (AP)

Oklahoma on Thursday approved a bill which bans abortions in most cases, with only a few exceptions.

Providers said they would stop performing the procedure as soon as the governor signs it.

It is the latest example of restricting abortion rights in the US following a leak which suggests the Supreme Court may overturn the landmark 1971 Roe v Wade ruling, which granted rights to have an abortion nationwide.

Lawmakers in Oklahoma have already passed a half-dozen anti-abortion measures, with the governor signing an effective ban after six-weeks earlier this month.

Two of Oklahoma's four abortion clinics had already stopped providing abortions after that ban and a lawyer for the two other independent clinics said they will no longer offer services once the bill is signed.

"This bill could go into effect at any time, and once it does, any person can sue the clinic, the doctors, anyone else who is involved in providing an abortion in Oklahoma," said Rabia Muqaddam, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The bill by Collinsville Republican Wendi Stearman would prohibit all abortions, except to save the life of a pregnant woman or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest that has been reported to police.

As all of the state’s abortion clinics are expected to stop offering services, it is not clear where a woman who qualified under one of the bill’s exemptions would go to get an abortion.

Another Oklahoma bill, similar to a Texas bill passed last year, prohibits the procedure after cardiac activity can be detected in the embryo, has already taken effect.

Another bill set to take effect this summer would make it a felony to perform an abortion, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. That bill contains no exceptions for rape or incest.

"At this point, we are preparing for the most restrictive environment politicians can create: a complete ban on abortion with likely no exceptions," said Emily Wales, interim president and chie executive of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which stopped providing abortions at two of its Oklahoma clinics after the six-week ban took effect earlier this month.

“It's the worst-case scenario for abortion care in the state of Oklahoma."

Like the Texas law, that Oklahoma bill would allow private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion.

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