Oklahoma Republicans ram through most restrictive abortion ban in the nation

Oklahoma's GOP governor signs into law restrictions that could put abortion providers in prison for 10 years

By Jon Skolnik

Published April 12, 2022 11:51AM (EDT)

Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, a case about a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, on December 01, 2021 in Washington, DC. With the addition of conservative justices to the court by former President Donald Trump, experts believe this could be the most important abortion case in decades and could undermine or overturn Roe v. Wade. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, a case about a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, on December 01, 2021 in Washington, DC. With the addition of conservative justices to the court by former President Donald Trump, experts believe this could be the most important abortion case in decades and could undermine or overturn Roe v. Wade. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a near-total abortion ban on Tuesday, making it a felony for anyone to perform an abortion, as part of a years-long Republican crusade to roll back abortion access for people across the country.

The measure, S.B. 612, subjects anyone who provides an abortion to $100,000 fine and up to ten years in a prison. While the bill does allow exemptions for medical emergencies, it makes does such thing in cases of rape or incest. 

"I promised Oklahomans that I would sign every pro-life bill that hits my desk and that's what we're doing today," Stitt said during the bill's signing. "We want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country. We want to outlaw abortion in the state of Oklahoma."

State Sen. Nathan Dahm, the measure's sponsor called it the "strongest pro-life legislation in the country right now, which effectively eliminates abortion in Oklahoma."

RELATED: "Devastating": Oklahoma's near-total abortion ban is "worse than Texas" — and impacts other states

Abortion advocates have sounded alarm of the measure, indicating that it will almost certainly be challenged in court. 

"It has never been more obvious that politicians are using tricks and games to pass these harmful laws," Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Texas and Oklahoma and a board member at Physicians for Reproductive Health, said in a statement. "Oklahoma legislators are trying to ban abortion from all sides and merely seeing which of these dangerous, shameful bills they can get their governor to sign."


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Oklahoma Republicans are also attempting to push a parallel bill, H.B. 4327, though the legislature that would outlaw abortion after six weeks into pregnancy, likening the legislative rubric established by Texas' near-total abortion ban passed back in September. 

Emily Wales, Interim President and CEO at Planned Parenthood Great Plains, called Oklahoma's latest measure a "vigilante, bounty-hunter law copied from anti-choice politicians' Texas playbook." 

Like that of Texas, H.B. 4327 would also establish a cause of action against anyone who aids or abets in an abortion, allowing private citizens to sue wrongdoers for at least $10,000. 

RELATED: Oklahoma readies for near-total abortion ban

S.B. 612's passage comes as the Supreme Court considers a landmark case on a Mississippi Abortion law, which prohibits abortions after 15 weeks into pregnancy. The case is likely to set a legal precedent for the recent rash of restrictive abortion bills passed by states like Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas, as The Washington Post noted.

Last year, multiple members of the Supreme Court, in which conservatives hold a 6-3 majority, indicated that they might be open to reversing Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that established a woman's constitutional right to abortion.


Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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Anti-abortion Laws Oklahoma Reproductive Rights Republicans Roe V. Wade Supreme Court