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Oklahoma Legislature passes country’s most restrictive abortion ban

The measure will now go to Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican who has said he "would sign every pro-life bill that hits my desk."

The Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill Thursday that would ban nearly all abortions, the latest and most severe in a string of anti-abortion measures approved in the state in recent months.

Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, is expected to sign the measure, HB 4327, which would prohibit abortions after "fertilization" with few exceptions, making it the most restrictive such law in the country. It passed the Republican-controlled House by a vote of 73-16.

Similar to a Texas law that went into effect last year, it includes a provision that would allow citizens to file civil suits against any person who "knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion."

The Oklahoma bill includes exceptions to save the life of a pregnant woman or to allow abortions if a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest that has been reported to law enforcement.

It was passed several weeks after Stitt signed into law a measure banning abortions after six weeks and another that makes it a felony to perform an abortion, which is set to go into effect this year.

Image: Abortion-rights supporters rally at the State Capitol on May 3, 2022, in Oklahoma City.
Abortion-rights supporters rally at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City on May 3.Sue Ogrocki / AP file

The six-week ban had already led the state's four abortion clinics to turn patients away, NBC News reported this month.

“I promised Oklahomans that I would sign every pro-life bill that hits my desk," Stitt said last month at a signing ceremony for the felony bill. "We want to outlaw abortion in the state of Oklahoma."

The White House blasted the new bill Thursday night, calling it the “most extreme effort” to undo fundamental rights.

“This is part of a growing effort by ultra MAGA officials across the country to roll back the freedoms we should not take for granted in this country,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “They are starting with reproductive rights, but the American people need to know that other fundamental rights, including the right to contraception and marriage equality, are at risk.”

While other anti-abortion bills approved by the Oklahoma Legislature in recent years have been stopped as unconstitutional, the new measure was passed after a draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito indicated that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The high court has confirmed the authenticity of the draft opinion, leaked to Politico this month, which would overturn the constitutional right to an abortion enshrined in the nearly 50-year-old Roe decision, leaving states to set their own policies.

The final decision could come in late June or early July, and it is possible that the justices’ final votes and the decision will change.