On Thursday, the Oklahoma legislature approved a measure that bans almost all abortions beginning at conception.
House Bill 4327 makes almost all abortions illegal from the point of fertilization, which is defined as “the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum.”
It includes exceptions for abortions to save the life of the mother “in a medical emergency,” or if the pregnancy resulted from “rape, sexual assault, or incest that has been reported to law enforcement.”
The bill also defines “Unborn child” as “a human fetus or embryo in any stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.”
The legislation is similar to a Texas bill that provides for civilian enforcement rather than being enforced by the state. It incorporates this civil action protocol by allowing “[a]ny person, other than the state, its political subdivisions, and any officer or employee of a state or local governmental entity in this state” to bring a civil action against anyone who:
- Performs or induces an abortion in violation of this act;
- Knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion, including paying for or reimbursing the costs of an abortion through insurance or otherwise, if the abortion is performed or induced in violation of this act, regardless of whether the person knew or should have known that the abortion would be performed or induced in violation of this act; or
- Intends to engage in the conduct described by paragraph 1 or 2 of this subsection.
The legislators in the state House passed the bill in a vote tallying at 73 to 16 after the state Senate passed it in April and sent it back to the lower chamber to approve additions.
States across the country have been creating laws in recent months restricting or permitting abortion ahead of a ruling from the Supreme Court on the Mississippi case Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. A recent Supreme Court draft majority opinion on the case showed the high court could very well overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
In the leaked draft opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” adding, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
The Oklahoma bill will immediately go into effect once it is signed by Republican Governor Kevin Stitt.
As The Daily Wire reported, earlier this month, Stitt signed a bill similar to Texas’ heartbeat bill, which prohibits abortions if a fetal heartbeat is able to be detected. Stitt also signed legislation in April that will go into effect in August, which bans abortion completely other than to save the mother’s life. The measure passed by the House on Thursday connects the two goals of prohibiting abortion and involving civilians to enforce the law.
Oklahoma state Representative Wendi Stearman (R), who sponsored the bill, said in a press release, “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.”
Planned Parenthood said it would go to court over the bill, tweeting, “The Oklahoma legislature just passed a total ban on abortion, enforced by private citizens,” adding, “This ban will take effect as soon as the governor signs the bill, making Oklahoma the first state to outlaw abortion entirely — even while Roe v. Wade still stands.”