Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, has signed a bill that intends to aggressively advance the pro-life cause by making it illegal to perform an abortion in the state. Punishments for those who continue to provide abortions after the law goes into effect will include fines of up to $100,000 and potential 10 year prison sentences. While signing the bill, Stitt said “We do not want to allow abortions in the state of Oklahoma.”
Oklahoma governor signs pro-life legislation
Texas passed a law last year that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, relying on an unorthodox but effective strategy of enforcement.
Neighboring Oklahoma has since become a haven for Texas residents seeking abortions; Planned Parenthood claims to have recorded a 2,500% increase in Texans coming to Oklahoma for that purpose.
Oklahoma was in danger of becoming known as a premier destination for individuals traveling to the state specifically for access to an abortion provider.
Stitt and the state legislature have now quashed that trend. They will almost certainly face a legal battle if they intend to keep the law in place.
Republicans in Oklahoma, like Republicans in Texas and other red states, are advancing pro-life legislation in anticipation of a major Supreme Court ruling this year.
There is hope that the conservative court could decide to reverse or at least weaken Roe v. Wade when they rule in June on a similar law in Mississippi.
Democrats fear for the future of abortion in red states
Democrats hope to counter the pro-life offensive by passing federal legislation that would overrule the new laws and force states to allow abortion.
The national abortion fight is being intensified by speculation about what the Supreme Court will choose to do. The Mississippi law will be the first abortion case ruled on since the court solidified its conservative majority.
Ketanji Brown Jackson, recently confirmed to succeed Justice Stephen Breyer, will not alter the ideological composition of the court as she is replacing another liberal.
Some state legislatures with Republican majorities have already prepared abortion bans that will go into effect if the conservative justices overturn the controversial decision.
The Biden administration has decried all of these laws and is encouraging legal challenges, though the Department of Justice might have its hands full if states continue to adopt pro-life laws.
The abortion debate has been going on for decades and it won’t be ending any time soon, but for the moment the momentum in the battle is firmly on the pro-life side.