December 7, 2022

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The Legal System

Oklahoma passes near-total ban on abortions after ‘fertilization’ that goes even further than Texas’ law

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Kevin Stitt

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.Sue Ogrocki/AP

  • Oklahoma is one step closer to having one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the nation.

  • The state’s legislature passed a bill banning almost all abortions after “fertilization.”

  • Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, is expected to sign the latest legislation into law.

The Oklahoma legislature on Thursday passed a near-complete ban on abortions after “fertilization,” a move that shows just how far Republican-controlled states are willing to go to ban abortions as they expect Roe v. Wade to be overturned by the Supreme Court.

The legislation, HB 4327, is modeled after Texas’ controversial law that’s based on civil rather than criminal enforcement of a ban on abortion. But Oklahoma’s bill goes further than Texas’ by banning abortion from the moment of “fertilization.” Texas’ ban begins at about six weeks of pregnancy.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, has repeatedly pushed for his state to be the most anti-abortion in the country. He is expected to sign HB 4327 into law. The Oklahoman reported that only two Republicans broke ranks on the final vote.

Over the weekend, Stitt defended a move away from excepting abortions in cases of rape, incest, or the health of the pregnant person. Every Republican president from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump supported such exceptions.

“I have daughters. I can’t even imagine what it would be like in that hardship,” Stitt told Shannon Bream on “Fox News Sunday.” “That is a human being inside the womb, and we’re gonna do everything we can to protect life and love both the mother and the child. And we don’t think killing one to protect another is the right thing to do either.”

HB 4327 provides exceptions in cases of rape or incest if the crime is reported to authorities. It also contains specific exceptions for the use of Plan B or similar so-called morning-after pills. The bill also doesn’t include the removal of an ectopic pregnancy under its definition of an abortion.

Otherwise, the legislation largely mirrors Texas’ law. That means that private citizens could bring civil suits against anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion, which would include physicians as well as anyone who pays for an abortion. Also, like Texas’ law, the bill would bar insurance providers from covering any part of the cost of an abortion.

Chief Justice John Roberts previously slammed Texas’ law, writing last year that the decision to delegate enforcement to private individuals was part of “an array of stratagems designed to shield its unconstitutional law from judicial review.” But Roberts’ plea went unheeded. The court allowed Texas’ law to go into effect while a legal challenge to it worked its way through federal courts.

Republican-controlled states have rushed to pass anti-abortion laws.

Their efforts have been buoyed by a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court. In the draft opinion, published by Politico, Justice Samuel Alito wrote for a majority of justices. If made final, it would gut federal abortion rights by explicitly overturning Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. A final ruling from that case, which is based on Mississippi’s anti-abortion law that effectively bans most abortions at 15 weeks of pregnancy, is expected to be released later this summer. In the meantime, Roe and Casey remain in effect.

If the landmark decisions were struck down, states would have much more authority to restrict or legalize abortion rights absent congressional action. Democrats in Congress have thus far failed to codify a federal right to abortion into law.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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