WATCH: Oklahoma lawmakers debate bill that would ban nearly all abortions | May 19, 2022
PBS, 20 May 2022
Oklahoma State Legislature passed a bill Thursday that abortion advocates say that once signed, will become the most restrictive ban yet in the nation.
In a 73-16 vote, state lawmakers passed House Bill 4327, which would ban all abortions in the state and would be enforced by lawsuits from private citizens against abortion providers, which can include the clinic itself where the abortion was provided, as well as the doctors and staff there. The bill has exceptions for rape and incest, but those incidents must be reported to law enforcement. The bill also makes an exception to save the life of the mother.
The bill comes weeks after a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court outlined the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade, allowing states to decide whether to ban abortion. Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who has pledged to sign all anti-abortion measures, is expected to approve the bill. Once signed, the ban will go into effect immediately.
Ahead of Thursday’s vote on the measure, Rep. Cyndi Munson, a Democrat from Oklahoma City, argued the bill was going to result in the deaths of women.
“If we pass this, women are going to die,” Munson said. “I know my Republican colleagues aren't going to vote ‘no’ on an abortion ban, but I recommend you walk and abstain instead of killing constituents or forcing girls to carry their rapist's child.”
Rep. Wendi Stearman, a Republican from Collinsville and co-sponsor of the bill, said it’s her hope that the bill will provide more protections for “unborn children” in Oklahoma.
“We used to debate on abortion bills whether the fetus is a person,” Stearman said. “Now we're debating on whether the child will have a hard life. Based on that argument, we should offer services to kill children until they're 18.”
Earlier this month, Stitt signed a ban on abortions past six weeks of pregnancy, which left clinics in Oklahoma scrambling to reschedule patients at clinics in other states.
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