Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill to protect the unborn, which threatens 10 years in prison for abortion providers and up to $100,000 in fines.
The bill, which makes it illegal to perform an abortion in the state, except in medical emergencies, is one of several pro-life measures advanced by the state legislature. It is set to take effect this summer unless blocked in court, Reuters reported.
“We want to choose life in Oklahoma. We do not want to allow abortions in the state of Oklahoma,” said Stitt at the signing conference.
The ban will cover an ever-growing swath of the United States, where abortion access is restricted. Prior to the legislation's passage, Oklahoma became a destination for women in Texas seeking an abortion as Texas banned abortions for pregnancies from six weeks onwards last September.
According to Reuters, Planned Parenthood abortion providers in Oklahoma saw a nearly 2,500% increase in patients from Texas following the law’s passage last year in comparison to the same period in 2020.
“The ban signed today is cruel and if it takes effect this summer, will have a devastating impact on people in Oklahoma, neighbouring Texans, as well as an entire region facing attacks on their rights to abortion access,” said Melissa Fowler, the National Abortion Federation's chief program officer in a statement to the outlet.
The White House has also spoken up on the Oklahoma abortion ban, with Press Secretary Jen Psaki calling on Congress to pass legislation to codify the right to have an abortion nationwide.
“The actions today in Oklahoma are a part of a disturbing national trend attacking women’s rights and the Biden administration will continue to stand with women in Oklahoma and across the country in the fight to defend their freedom to make their own choices about their futures,” Psaki said.
A separate piece of legislation introduced in Oklahoma proposes banning almost all abortions and calls on private citizens to sue anyone who “aids or abets” abortions. The proposed legislation, which is making its way through the state legislature, is similar to Texas’ ban on abortions.
Like the newly-signed bill, it will also provide a clause for medical emergencies, allowing it to take effect immediately once signed by the governor.