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Oklahoma governor signs into law nation’s most restrictive abortion ban

The law, which takes effect immediately, prohibits abortions after “fertilization” with few exceptions.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks during a roundtable discussion in the State Dining Room of the White House, on June 18, 2020.Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images file

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday signed a bill that bans nearly all abortions after “fertilization,” making it the most restrictive abortion law in the country.

The state law, which goes into effect immediately, only allows abortions in cases where the life of a pregnant woman is at risk or when a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest that has been reported to law enforcement.

It also resembles a Texas law that lets people file civil suits against anyone who engages in aiding or abetting the procedure.

“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,” Stitt, a Republican who is seeking a second term as governor, 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.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood said Wednesday they would sue Oklahoma over the new law. 

Stitt previously signed into law a measure prohibiting abortions once cardiac activity can be detected, at roughly six weeks. That ban caused the state’s four abortion clinics to refuse patients, NBC News reported this month.

In April, Stitt signed a bill that makes it a felony to perform an abortion. That measure is set to go into effect this year.

The latest bill signing comes just weeks after a leaked draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito indicated the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. A decision in that case could come in late June or early July.

Related: Being denied an abortion harms mental health more than getting one, research shows

“We are seeing the beginning of a domino effect that will spread across the entire South and Midwest if Roe falls,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement Wednesday.

“Banning abortion after six weeks was not extreme enough for Oklahoma lawmakers. The goal of the anti-abortion movement is to ensure no one can access abortion at any point for any reason,” she added. “Right now, patients in Oklahoma are being thrown into a state of chaos and fear. That chaos will only intensify as surrounding states cut off access as well.”

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