Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill on Tuesday that bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, immediately outlawing almost all abortions in the state.
The law relies on private citizens to sue providers or anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion after six weeks to be enforced. It is modelled after a Texas law that has staved off legal challenges since it took effect in that state in September.
The ban, one of several anti-abortion bills Oklahoma lawmakers approved this session in hopes that at least one will withstand legal challenges, takes immediate effect with the Republican governor’s signature. The Oklahoma Supreme Court earlier in the day declined to block its enforcement pending the outcome of litigation challenging it.
“I want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country because I represent all four million Oklahomans who overwhelmingly want to protect the unborn,” Stitt said on Twitter.
Oklahoma previously prohibited most abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization. Viability, or when a fetus can survive outside the womb, is usually around 24 weeks.
Under the new law, abortion will effectively be banned after a fetal heartbeat is detected. State data from 2017 through 2020 shows that most abortions recorded in Oklahoma happen after six weeks’ gestation.
“This moment is dark. Last night, our fears about the fate of abortion rights at the US Supreme Court were confirmed, and today, Oklahomans are faced with an immediate loss of abortion access,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.
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