GOP Oklahoma Governor Signs Trio of ‘Cruel and Unnecessary’ Anti-Choice Bills Into Law

“These extreme bills are designed to cut off abortion access for people in Oklahoma—a state that already has more abortion restrictions than almost any other.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-26-2021

Stop Abortion Bans Rally in St Paul, Minnesota 2019. Photo: Lorie Shaull/flickr/cc

Reproductive rights advocates on Monday excoriated Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt after the Republican signed into law a trio of anti-choice bills they say are among the nation’s most draconian.

Declaring he was keeping his “promise to sign all pro-life legislation,” Stitt approved the following bills, which will take effect on November 1:

  • H.B. 2241 (pdf) bans the termination of pregnancies when there is what the law calls “a detectable fetal heartbeat”—which is scientifically problematic language—except when the life of the pregnant person is in danger, “or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.” There are no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. Violators of the law are “guilty of homicide.”
  • H.B. 1102 (pdf) includes the performance of an abortion under the state’s “unprofessional conduct” statute, except in cases where the pregnant person’s life is endangered. Penalties include, but are not limited to, suspension of offending physicians’ medical licenses for at least one year.
  • H.B. 1904 (pdf) mandates that physicians who perform abortions must be board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Violators are subject to between one and three years of imprisonment.

Gloria Pedro, regional manager of public policy and organizing for Arkansas and Oklahoma at Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, told CNN that the fetal heartbeat law bans abortions before people may even know that they’re pregnant.

“Aside from being unconstitutional, it’s incredibly unfair and patronizing to women,” she said. “We’ve seen bans like this fail time and time again, so it’s a real waste of taxpayers’ money and it just shows that the Legislature has their priorities wrong in the middle of a pandemic.”

“When they should be working on expanding healthcare for Oklahomans, they are trying to deny healthcare and it’s just cruel and unnecessary,” Pedro said of state GOP lawmakers and Stitt.

Elisabeth Smith, chief counsel for state policy at the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, told the Associated Press that “these extreme bills are designed to cut off abortion access for people in Oklahoma—a state that already has more abortion restrictions than almost any other state.”

“We are currently considering all our legal options to ensure that these laws do not take effect and abortion remains accessible for Oklahomans,” she added.

Other Oklahoma anti-choice bills awaiting Stitt’s signature include S.B. 918 (pdf), a so-called “trigger bill” that would ban abortion in the state if the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling enshrining abortion as a constitutional right.

According to Planned Parenthood Action Fund, more than 200 anti-choice bills were progressing in states as of February 2021, as GOP-controlled legislatures are emboldened by the conservative supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court and anticipating what they believe is a coming reckoning over the fate of Roe v. Wade.

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