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Oklahoma passes law banning abortion

A bill has been passed that makes abortion punishable with up to 10 years in prison in some of the most restrictive legislation to date.

Oliver Povey
FILE PHOTO: A doctor does an ultrasound on a patient from Austin, Texas, before her surgical abortion at Trust Women clinic in Oklahoma City, U.S., December 6, 2021. Picture taken December 6, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo

Last Tuesday, the Oklahoma House of Representatives gave its final legislative approval to a near-total ban on abortion, with the only exceptions being for medical emergencies. The bill, named Senate Bill 612, makes abortion a felony with penalties of up to 10 years in prison for those who perform the procedure.

With little discussion and no debate, the Republican-controlled House voted 70-14 to send the bill to Republican Governor Kevin Stitt. At this stage the ban is a formality, Stitt has said in the past that he will sign any legislation that limits abortion that comes his way.

Republican state Rep. Jim Olsen, the bill’s principal House author, told CNN that he believes “rape and incest is a horrible crime” and though the baby is conceived in a “horrible situation,” it “still has a right to life.”

A legal challenge to the law is expected and the process comes as the US Supreme Court, which has a conservative majority, is considering reducing abortion rights that have been in force for almost 50 years thanks to ‘Roe v. Wade’.

Anti-abortion laws increase in the United States

Similar anti-abortion bills have been passed in other conservative states in recent years, but they have been stopped by the courts due to their unconstitutionality.

However, the Supreme Court’s position has given hope to Republicans, as the highest court has allowed the new restrictions on abortion in Texas . The new Texas law is one of the most restrictive in the US, as it prohibits abortion once supposed cardiac activity is detected, generally around six weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. The scientific support is tenuous at best but that hasn’t stopped Republican lawmakers.

On December 1, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case ‘Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization’ , which focuses on a Mississippi anti-abortion law that bans almost all abortions after 15 weeks. The fact that the Court decided to hear this case and that the highest court has a 6-3 anti-abortion majority, sends a strong and worrying signal that access to abortion may be seriously restricted in 2022.

“Oklahomans could face a future where they would have no place left in their state to go to seek this basic health care,” said the group Planned Parenthood Action Fund in a news release.


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