Oklahoma lawmakers pass bill banning abortions after “fertilization”
If signed into law, Oklahoma would effectively ban all abortions in the state.
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Under the Oklahoma bill, those who could be punished include anyone who “performs or induces” an abortion; anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion,” including paying for one; and anyone who even “intends to engage” in either of the two actions above.
The bill defines “fertilization” as the moment a sperm meets the egg. It explicitly allows for the use of the Plan B pill and emergency contraception, and exempts from its definition of abortion any procedure to “save the life or preserve the health of the unborn child,” to “remove a dead unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion,” or to remove an ectopic pregnancy.
The bill passed the Oklahoma state legislature on a 73-16 vote Thursday, and it heads to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s (R) desk. If he signs it into law, it would go into effect immediately.
The Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision later next month on the fate of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision guaranteeing a nationwide right to abortion. In anticipation of the court overturning Roe, Republicans in dozens of states have rushed to write laws that would severely restrict abortion access.
On Thursday, Planned Parenthood vowed to take the state of Oklahoma to court over the legislation, saying the ban “must be stopped.”
“The Oklahoma legislature just passed a total ban on abortion, enforced by private citizens,” the pro-choice group tweeted. “This ban will take effect as soon as the governor signs the bill, making Oklahoma the first state to outlaw abortion entirely — even while Roe v. Wade still stands.”
Stitt has already signed into law a ban on abortions in the state for pregnancies past six weeks, doing so the day after the stunning leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. At the time, he said he wanted Oklahoma to be “the most pro-life state in the country,” which was in part why the state’s new ban included no exceptions for rape or incest.
Democratic Oklahoma state representatives had sounded the alarm over the bill. Among some of the concerns they raised were that it could affect in vitro fertilization.
“Looking at the language, it’s hard to see how it wouldn’t affect in vitro fertilization because it talks about as soon as the ovum and the sperm meet, and the egg is fertilized, that means that’s a person,” Oklahoma state Rep. Emily Virgin (D) said, according to KOKH News. “That’s what happens with in vitro fertilization, you create embryos.”
Oklahoma state Rep. Wendi Stearman (R), the bill’s sponsor, said IVF was not included in the bill, as it “would be tough” to prove that an abortion had occurred in that situation.