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Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed the state’s Texas-style abortion ban into law Monday evening.
Oklahoma Senate Bill 1503, also known as the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act, bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, about six weeks into the pregnancy. Like Texas’ trail blazing abortion law, the Oklahoma law is enforced by civil lawsuits on abortion providers and anyone who “aids and abets” procuring an abortion.
“I am proud to sign SB 1503, the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act into law,” Stitt tweeted Monday shortly after signing the bill into law. “I want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country because I represent all four million Oklahomans who overwhelmingly want to protect the unborn.”
The law arrived on Stitt’s desk last week after it was passed in the state legislature, as The Daily Wire reported. It passed the state House of Representatives by an overwhelming majority, 68-12, after it passed the state Senate in March by another large majority, 33-11. The Associated Press reported that the bill went into effect immediately upon Stitt’s signature.
The Oklahoma state Supreme Court also denied an emergency request to stay the implementation of the law temporarily. Abortion providers in the state have also said they will immediately stop providing abortion services for women after six weeks of pregnancy now that the law is in effect without court action, AP reported.
The text of the law states that “an abortion may not be performed or induced on a pregnant woman unless a physician has determined, in accordance with this section, whether the woman’s unborn child has a detectable fetal heartbeat.” Defining a fetal heartbeat as “cardiac activity or the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac,” the law then bans abortion if the heartbeat can be detected.
“[A] physician shall not knowingly perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman if the physician detected a fetal heartbeat for the unborn child… or failed to perform a test to detect a fetal heartbeat,” the law states.
Like Texas’ law, the Oklahoma law enforces violations through civil action. Any private individual can sue the abortion provider, as well as anyone who “engages in conduct that aids or abets” the procurement of an abortion, including paying for the abortion or reimbursing the costs of the procedure.
The woman who receives the abortion cannot be named as a defendant in any civil action. If the suit is successful, the court can enjoin the individual from performing or aiding the abortion, and claimants are entitled to up to $10,000 in damages. A similar law that bans all abortions, using the same enforcement method of civil lawsuits, is currently working its way through the state legislature.
The Oklahoma law comes on the heels of a leaked draft opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which indicates that the Supreme Court may vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Stitt signed a bill into law earlier this month that made performing an abortion a felony in the state, which takes effect in the summer in anticipation of the SCOTUS decision. In addition, the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights reports that Oklahoma has a “trigger bill” banning abortion in nearly all cases that goes into effect “if ever legally permissible.”