Oklahoma Republicans Move to Make Abortion Care a Felony

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Oklahoma Republicans Move to Make Abortion Care a Felony

Jessica Mason Pieklo

Other Republican-held state legislatures have passed laws that ban abortion care prior to fetal viability or attempt to ban the procedure outright. Federal courts have so far blocked those measures.

The GOP-controlled Oklahoma House of Representatives on Thursday passed a law designed to outlaw abortion entirely.

SB 1552 attempts to ban legal abortion by making it a felony to perform or induce an abortion. The bill contains no exceptions for the patient’s life or health and would strip physicians who provide abortion care of their medical licenses.

The bill now heads back to the Oklahoma State Senate and then to Republican Gov. Mary Fallin. Republicans hold a 39-9 state senate majority in Oklahoma. The state senate’s next vote on the bill would approve changes made to the measure. The chamber passed SB 1552 in March.

The criminalization of abortion care is the latest legislative attempt to roll back abortion rights in the state. Should it become law, reproductive rights advocates would most certainly sue to have it blocked.

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Other Republican-held state legislatures have passed laws that ban abortion care prior to fetal viability or attempt to ban the procedure outright. Federal courts have so far blocked those measures. The Supreme Court this year refused to review North Dakota’s GOP-backed ban on abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy as well as Arkansas’ ban on abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The nation’s highest court in 2014 refused to review Arizona’s ban on abortion care at 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“The Center for Reproductive Rights is closely watching this bill and we strongly urge Governor Fallin to reject this cruel and unconstitutional ban” Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “Oklahoma politicians have made it their mission year after year to restrict women’s access vital health care services, yet this total ban on abortion is a new low. When abortion is illegal, women and their health, futures, and families suffer.”

Attorneys from the Center for Reproductive Rights have challenged Oklahoma’s anti-choice laws eight times in the past five years, including a challenge to a law forcing patients to delay abortion care by at least 72 hours and a ban on the most common method of second-trimester abortion. A state court judge blocked the second-trimester abortion ban in 2015, but allowed the forced waiting period to take effect.