Oklahoma lawmakers vote to ban abortion, jail doctors


Oklahoma state lawmakers on Tuesday voted to criminalize abortion, authorizing a measure that would make performing the procedure a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The GOP-led House voted overwhelmingly to send the bill to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who had pledged to sign it. It was passed by the Senate last year.

The measure would make an exception only if an abortion was performed to save the mother, lawmakers said.

Doctors who perform abortions under other circumstances face a $100,000 fine in addition to a lengthy prison sentence. Patients would not be prosecuted.

“The penalties are for the doctor, not the woman,” said GOP Rep. Jim Olsen.

The proposal was the latest aggressive anti-abortion law introduced by Republican-led state houses since Texas banned abortions last fall as the US Supreme Court considers overturning a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, established in 1973.

Similar bills passed by the Oklahoma City legislature in recent years have been rejected by the nation’s Supreme Court.

Emily Wales, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, speaks to a group of abortion rights advocates outside the Oklahoma Capitol on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

Legislatures passed the law Tuesday with little discussion and no debate, while also approving a resolution that called on state residents to vote on the anniversary of the passage of Roe v. Raise Wade flags at half-staff.

The legislative action came as more than 100 people gathered outside the capital in support of abortion rights.

“These lawmakers have continued their relentless assault on our liberties,” said Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes.

Supporters of abortion rights
Abortion rights advocates gather in front of the Oklahoma Capitol on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.
AP/Sean Murphy

“These restrictions are not about making our work safer. It is about shaming and stigmatizing people who need and deserve access to abortions.”

Planned Parenthoods in Oklahoma saw an 800 percent increase in patients from Texas after the neighboring state banned abortion across the board after a fetal heartbeat was detected, the activist said.

With AP wires

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