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Tipsheet

Oklahoma Lawmakers Advance ‘Texas-Style’ Abortion Ban

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

State lawmakers in Oklahoma approved a bill on Thursday that would prohibit abortions in the state after fetal heartbeat detection, similar to a law enacted in Texas late last year. This comes shortly after GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law that makes performing an abortion in the state a felony. 

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The legislation, Senate Bill 1503, dubbed the “Oklahoma Heartbeat Act,” makes one exception for when the mother’s life is in danger. It is “emergency” legislation, meaning it would go into effect immediately if signed by the Governor.

A press release from the Oklahoma Senate explains that the bill allows any private citizen to pursue legal action against anyone who performs an abortion, intends to perform an abortion, or aids a woman obtaining an abortion after fetal heartbeat detection. This is similar to a provision in Texas’ heartbeat law.

“The act would be exclusively enforced through private civil actions, authorizing anyone to bring a civil lawsuit against a person who performs or induces an abortion, as well as any individual who aids or abets,” the release reads. “Claimants would have up to six years to file a civil suit.  If the claimant prevails, he or she or would be entitled to a minimum of $10,000 in civil damages for each abortion the defendant performed, induced, or abetted.  The woman receiving the abortion would not be subject to these civil actions.”

Last month, lawmakers in Idaho passed a similar “Texas-Style” abortion bill that was signed by GOP Gov. Brad Little shortly after. However, the Idaho Supreme Court blocked enforcement of the law shortly after.

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Oklahoma Republican state Sen. Julie Daniels, who sponsored S.B. 1503, said in a published statement last month that “the Texas law has already saved the lives of many unborn children. We can achieve the same result in Oklahoma with SB 1503.”

Stitt said in the bill signing this month that made performing an abortion illegal that he wants Oklahoma to be “the most pro-life state in the country.”

“As Governor, I represent all four million Oklahomans,” Stitt said during the signing. “And they overwhelmingly support protecting life in the state of Oklahoma. We want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country. We want to outlaw abortion in the state of Oklahoma.”

“We believe every life is precious. As a father of six, those are my core beliefs. And I’m elected by four million Oklahomans to represent them and to put our beliefs in the law,” he continued. 

Stitt later added that “we’re going to sign every piece of pro-life legislation that hits our desk.”

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