Oklahoma’s abortion ban receives exceptions in new bills

Republican lawmakers advanced two bills that seek to introduce exceptions and establish uniformity and clarity to Oklahoma’s near-total abortion ban.

Shortly after the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law the nation’s strictest abortion ban, effectively outlawing any medical procedures that terminate pregnancy. The controversial legislation allows for abortions only under lifesaving circumstances, or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest that has been reported to law enforcement.

Senate Bill 368 and 834 were advanced on Feb 9 during a meeting of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. State Senators Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, and Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville authored bills 368 and 834, respectively.

Sen. Daniels’ bill expands exceptions for medical procedures that terminate pregnancies. If passed, medical treatments like the prescription and use of contraception, in vitro fertilization, removal of an ectopic pregnancy, and procedures after a miscarriage would no longer be considered an illegal abortion.

Garvin’s bill seeks to clarify the current law’s requirement that, in order for a woman to legally terminate a pregnancy that is the result of rape or incest, it must be reported to the law. Sen. Garvin’s bill, like Sen. Daniels’, also states that Oklahoma’s “pro-life” laws should not prohibit the use of contraceptive drugs or surgeries.

Gov. Stitt said during his gubernatorial debate with Democratic candidate Joy Hofmeister that he would sign legislation containing exceptions for rape or incest or for women who are pregnant and entering rehabilitation for a chemical addiction if it reached his desk.

Stitt had previously indicated that he would sign any pro-life legislation that crossed his desk, but when Senate Bill 287 was introduced in the Oklahoma legislature earlier this month by State Sen. Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain, Stitt said it went too far. The bill proposed punishing women who receive abortions in the state; the current legislation only criminalizes doctors who perform abortions.

Stitt — along with a slew of Oklahoma republicans like Sens. Garvin and Daniels, have reversed course in their crusade for a total abortion ban. The contradictory and confusing sequence of laws are a fixture post Roe v. Wade politics in republican states. Lawmakers in Tennessee, Texas, and Arizona struggle similarly to create clear and concise legislation regarding what is and is not a legal abortion.

Both Garvin’s and Daniels’ bills are eligible for a hearing on the senate floor.

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