The Oklahoma legislature moved Thursday to pass a Texas-style abortion ban, one that relies upon citizen legislation and vigilante enforcement. Unlike a previous abortion ban (SB 612) which goes into effect in August, this legislation would take effect immediately after Governor Kevin Stitt signs it.
In addition to severely limiting abortion access to Oklahomans, Texans will also feel the devastating impact. After Senate Bill 8 was signed by Greg Abbott last year, Oklahoma absorbed more patients from Texas seeking an abortion than any other state.
On Thursday, the Oklahoma state senate passed SB 1503, which is essentially a six-week abortion ban, with no debate or questions. It utilizes similar language to Texas’s SB 8, which would allow virtually any private citizen to file a lawsuit against an abortion provider or anyone they believe aided or abetted an abortion.
After Texas passed SB 8, other red states took notice. Oklahoma joins Idaho as the latest state to copy the cruel Texas legislation. Both Tennessee and Missouri appear poised to also pass legislation that that relies on private lawsuits.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, along with other coalition partners, filed two legal challenges in Oklahoma to block both SB 612 and SB 1503 from taking effect. “We are asking the state courts to uphold the state constitution and apply Oklahoma precedent to block these insidious abortion bans before they take effect,” said Nancy Northup, the president and CEO of the Center, in a statement.
Another plaintiff in the lawsuit is Planned Parenthood Great Plains. The Signal spoke to their interim president and CEO Emily Wales after Oklahoma passed SB 612 earlier this month ,and she warned that a Texas-style law was likely soon to pass.Wales issued a statement about yesterday’s newest abortion ban in Oklahoma and the filing. “Planned Parenthood Great Plains’ providers have served thousands of Texans in the past seven months because of their state’s harsh bounty-hunting scheme, and we have been proud to stand with them and provide essential, constitutionally protected abortion services,” said Wales. “Now, rather than serving as a haven for patients unable to get care at home, Oklahoma politicians have made outcasts of their own people. With today’s filings, we lift up the patients who will otherwise be unable to get care and ask the court to do its most essential function: honor the constitution and the individuals who need its protections,” continued Wales.
A longtime writer and journalist, Jessica was thrilled to join the Texas Signal where she could utilize her unique perspective on politics and culture. As the Features and Opinion Editor, she is responsible for coordinating editorials and segments from diverse authors. She is also the host of the podcast the Tex Mix, as well as the co-host for the weekly SignalCast. Jessica attended Harvard College, is a onetime fitness blogger, and has now transitioned to recreational runner (for which her joints are thankful).