Oklahoma governor signs law banning abortion at conception, becomes strictest in the US

FILE – Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks after signing into law a bill making it a felony to perform an abortion, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, on. April 12, 2022, in Oklahoma City. Stitt on Wednesday, May 25 signed into law the nation’s strictest abortion ban, making the state the first in the nation to effectively end availability of the procedure. State lawmakers approved the ban enforced by civil lawsuits rather than criminal prosecution, similar to a Texas law that was passed last year. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed a bill into law Wednesday that bans abortion at conception in his state, the strictest anti-abortion law in the nation.

Stitt signed House Bill 4327, which prohibits physicians from performing abortions at any point in a pregnancy, unless it is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life.

The new law immediately went into effect after Stitt signed it.

“I promised Oklahomans that as governor I would sign every piece of pro-life legislation that came across my desk and I am proud to keep that promise today,” he said in a statement.

“From the moment life begins at conception is when we have a responsibility as human beings to do everything we can to protect that baby’s life and the life of the mother. That is what I believe and that is what the majority of Oklahomans believe. If other states want to pass different laws, that is their right, but in Oklahoma we will always stand up for life,” he added.

The law also includes an exemption if the pregnancy is the result of rape, sexual assault or incest that has been reported to law enforcement.

Private citizens, under the new law, can file civil lawsuits up to $10,000 against anyone who performs or assists in performing an abortion. However, it does not allow the woman seeking an abortion to be sued.

“There can be no higher cause for you and I to address in this body, Madam Speaker, than the protection of innocent unborn life,” state Rep. Jim Olsen (R) said last week as lawmakers debated the legislation before it passed in the House on a 73-16 vote.

Opponents sounded off as well, pointing out what they described as an inconsistent message when it comes to valuing life.

“If you’re preborn, you’re all good,” state Rep. Mickey Dollens (D) said. “If you’re pre-K, good freaking luck if you’re born in Oklahoma. Good luck with an underfunded foster care system born into underfunded school system.”

The Oklahoma Legislature passed several anti-abortion bills this legislative session.

Stitt signed Senate Bill 612 into law earlier this year and Senate Bill 1503 into law earlier this month.

Senate Bill 612 makes it a felony for doctors to perform abortions. Doctors who perform abortions face up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. It goes into effect in late August.

Senate Bill 1503, also known as the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act, is a Texas-style anti-abortion law that opens up physicians to civil lawsuits if they perform abortions after cardiac activity can be detected in an embryo — around six weeks of pregnancy. It immediately went into effect after Stitt signed it.

Opponents of the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act have tried to prevent the law from going into effect, but the Oklahoma State Supreme Court said no to an injunction while waiting to hear suits filed against the law.

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