Reported By Michael Gryboski, Mainline Church Editor | Thursday, May 26, 2022
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a new law Wednesday that bans most abortions through all nine months of pregnancy, with the measure being enforced via litigation brought by private citizens. Stitt signed House Bill 4327, which was modeled off of a Texas law that bans most abortions after six weeks into a pregnancy but uses private civil actions to enforce the legislation. While Stitt had previously signed a six-week abortion ban, this new law bars abortions through the entire length of a pregnancy, making it one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States. Exceptions include rape, incest and life-threatening medical emergency for the mother.
In a statement, Stitt said he promised to “sign every piece of pro-life legislation” that came across his desk.
“l and I am proud to keep that promise today,” he declared.
“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,” Stitt said.
“That is what I believe and that is what the majority of Oklahomans believe. If other states want to pass different laws, that is their right, but in Oklahoma, we will always stand up for life.”
The law allows for private individuals to sue abortion providers and anyone who “aids or abets” a woman seeking an abortion.
The Center for Reproductive Rights said in a statement that Oklahoma is the first state to enact a “citizen-enforced total ban on abortion.” A coalition of abortion providers and a “reproductive justice” organizations will imminently file a lawsuit hoping to block the law in court.
“Banning abortion after six weeks was not extreme enough for Oklahoma lawmakers,” Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northup said in a statement. “The goal of the anti-abortion movement is to ensure no one can access abortion at any point for any reason.”
The Oklahoma bill was denounced by the White House last week when it passed the state legislature. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called abortion a “fundamental right” and labeled HB 4327 “the most extreme effort to undo these fundamental rights we have seen to date.”
“In addition, it adopts Texas’ absurd plan to allow private citizens to sue their neighbors for providing reproductive health care and helping women to exercise their constitutional rights,” she continued.
“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.”
Last December, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the case of Dobbs v. Jackson, which centers on a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks into a pregnancy. If the high court upholds Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, it could overturn or weaken the landmark 1973 opinion in Roe v. Wade, which prohibited laws restricting abortion before the unborn child attains viability.
Earlier this month, Politico published a leaked draft opinion in the Dobbs case, which indicated that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe and allow states to decide their abortion laws. Although Politico acknowledged that the draft opinion was not final and did not necessarily mean Roe would be overturned, the report nevertheless sparked numerous protests and several acts of vandalism against churches and pro-life pregnancy resource centers. A ruling is expected by the end of June. If Roe is overturned, 21 states would either ban or severely restrict abortion, 16 states will continue to allow abortion throughout most or all of pregnancy. Existing abortion restrictions would remain in effect in 10 states.