Last Tuesday, the Oklahoma House passed Senate Bill 612 that would penalize abortion providers, except in medical emergencies, in the state with a penalty of up to $100,000 in fines and 10 years imprisonment. Consequently, Senate Bill 1503 would prohibit abortion once physicians detected a heartbeat.
Reuters reported that after SB 612 was passed last year, the majority of the state's House of Representatives voted yes which led the bill to the desk of Republican Governor Kevin Stitt for signing. Stitt has spoken his support for anti-abortion legislation. If he would sign the bill, it would take effect this summer unless the court would intervene.
In a press release, State Senator Nathan Dahm, the primary author of the bill, said "From my first day in office, protecting the unborn has been one of my top priorities. Senate Bill 612 is the strongest pro-life legislation in the country right now, which effectively eliminates abortion in Oklahoma."
He pointed out that the government was instituted to secure people's rights as stated in the Declaration of Independence. "It is far past time that the government of the state of Oklahoma defends the right to life," he said. He strongly suggested that "No one should be able to intentionally take an innocent life." According to him, SB 612 would "defend life from conception" and would stop the "murder of the unborn." It would "end the massacre that has been taking place in our states for decades through abortion," he continued.
American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma (ACLU) Director Tamya Cox-TourÃ© said in a statement, "People should be able to control their bodies, lives, and futures, without shame or stigma. If lawmakers cared about our communities, they would expand access to quality reproductive health care instead of restricting it."
A day after SB 612, another bill against abortion was passed in Oklahoma and awaits the signature of Governor Kevin Stitt. Senate Bill 1503 or known as the "Oklahoma Heartbeat Act" would disallow abortions at the time when a physician can perceive early cardiac activity in an embryo or fetus, which usually can be detected after six weeks of pregnancy, CNN reported.
Based on the report, Oklahoma state Representative Todd Russ told the news outlet that if SB 612 was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the bill he co-authored would still stand citing that the high court approved the Texas law.
ACLU wrote, "If any abortion ban goes into effect in Oklahoma, it will be devastating for the region's abortion access network. Oklahoma has been a lifeline for Texans seeking an abortion after the state passed its near-total abortion ban." They found out that after the Texas abortion law took effect more than six months ago, patients in some abortion providers in Oklahoma increased by roughly 2,500%.
Last Tuesday, ACLU held the "Bans off Oklahoma" rally to protest against "a slew of anti-abortion bills" that were being passed in the House of Representatives. Reproductive health and justice groups, including ACLU of Oklahoma, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice, and Trust Women, joined together to fight for "women's abortion rights and the freedom for people to make their own decisions about their health."