(NEW YORK) — The Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill that would ban abortion at conception, making it the most restrictive abortion ban in the country if it goes into effect.
There are exceptions in cases of saving the life of the mother, rape or incest.
The bill, HB 4327, which would go into effect immediately if signed by the governor, is modeled after a controversial Texas law that opens up providers and anyone who “aids and abets” an abortion to civil lawsuits.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a similar six-week ban into law earlier this month.
Planned Parenthood has already said it plans to challenge the state’s latest, more-restrictive abortion ban.
“This ban must be stopped — along with the other abortion bans the state passed just last month,” Planned Parenthood Action said.
Stitt seems likely to sign the bill into law. When the governor signed the so-called “heartbeat act” into law this month, he said he wanted Oklahoma “to be the most pro-life state in the country.”
Last month, Stitt signed another abortion bill that would make it a felony to perform abortions except when the mother’s life is in danger.
The GOP-led Oklahoma House of Representatives called HB 4327 the “most strongly pro-life bill of its kind by allowing civil liability from conception.”
“It is my sincere hope that, in addition to the criminal bill passed this session, this civil liability bill will provide strong, additional protection of the life of unborn children in Oklahoma,” state Rep. Wendi Stearman, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.
The Center for Reproductive Rights said Thursday it plans to fight the ban if it goes into effect.
“Multiple generations of Oklahomans have relied on abortion access to shape their lives and futures. They have never known a world without that right,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “But under this bill, people will be forced to travel hundreds of miles for an abortion, and those who cannot afford to travel will be forced to give birth against their will or attempt to end their pregnancies on their own. This is the cruel reality that politicians are creating for their own residents.”
The string of abortion legislation in Oklahoma comes as the U.S. Supreme Court debates a case that could impact Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide. The conservative majority of the court appeared poised to overturn the nearly 50-year precedent, according to a leaked draft opinion initially reported by Politico earlier this month.
Several other Republican-led states — including Arizona, Kentucky and Wyoming — have similarly passed abortion legislation ahead of the decision, which is expected next month.
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