After the GOP-led Oklahoma House gave final approval Thursday with a 68-12 vote – without discussion or debate – to a Texas-style abortion ban, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt is expected to sign the bill within days.
Dubbed the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act, the abortion bill prohibits the procedure once cardiac activity can be detected in the embryo, roughly six weeks into a pregnancy. It will take effect immediately after the governor signs it because the measure had an emergency. provision
Earlier this year Gov. Stitt signed a bill making performing an abortion a felony crime in Oklahoma, but that measure will not take effect until later in the summer and might not withstand a legal challenge.
Previously on Wednesday, Stitt signed into law a ban on using nonbinary gender markers on state birth certificates, the first of its kind in the US.
Oklahoma abortion rights advocates and a coalition of Oklahoma abortion providers have immediately filed separate legal challenges in state court both the abortion ban and the bill making abortion a felony crime.
Calling these bans some of the most extreme yet, the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup, reiterated the fact that the Oklahoma Supreme Court has repeatedly found that the extreme attempts of the state legislature to restrict abortion are unconstitutional.
Abortion providers say the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act will immediately end most abortions in Oklahoma as part of the several culture-war issues GOP-led states’ conservatives have embraced to drive the party’s base in an election year.
Commenting on the development, Democratic Rep. Andy Fugate said that Republicans are concerned about the upcoming elections and are making sure they have something they can put on a postcard to talk about to their voters.
Oklahoma House also adopted on Thursday a new language prohibiting transgender students from using school restrooms that don’t match the gender identity they were born in and require parental notification ahead of any classroom instruction on gender identity or sexual orientation.