On Tuesday, April 12, 2022, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, signed one of the strictest abortion laws in the nation, keeping with his promise to endorse any pro-life bill sent to his desk.
Senate Bill 612 prohibits any abortion performed after pregnancy is detectable with “conventional medical testing” with the only exception being abortions performed to save the life of the mother.
The law will go into effect in the summer, 90 days after the end of this legislative session which concludes on May 27, 2022.
“We want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country. We want to outlaw abortion in the state of Oklahoma,” Governor Stitt proclaimed at the bill signing.
Although the law is in direct conflict with Roe v. Wade and is sure to face legal challenges, Governor Stitt holds the belief that the states should have the power to set their own abortion laws. In fact, abortion rights could be handed back to the states this summer when the Supreme Court reveals its ruling in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson which they heard in the fall.
To learn more about Dobbs v. Jackson click here.
Governor Stitt further explained his decision to sign this bill, citing his convictions as well as the convictions of the overwhelming majority of Oklahoma. “We believe life is precious. As a father of six, those are my core beliefs and I’m elected by all 4 million Oklahomans to represent them and to put our core beliefs into law.”
Clearing Up Confusion
S.B. 612 will only penalize medical workers who perform or attempt to perform an abortion in violation of the law, not the woman receiving the abortion. In fact, the bill specifically states it does not “authorize the charging or conviction of a woman with any criminal offense in the death of her own unborn child.” However, medical workers who perform or attempt to perform an abortion in violation of the law, face a felony as well as either up to 10 years in prison or hefty fines of $100,000 for each violation.
While the bill has exceptions for medical emergencies where the life of the mother is at risk and delivery of the child is not an option, the law does not provide any exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
The law also will not influence cases of ectopic pregnancy because the treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is not considered an abortion. Likewise, the law does not prohibit the use of contraceptives.
Rep. Jim Olsen, who was the primary author of the bill, explained that although he agrees that rape and incest are horrible crimes, the baby conceived in this “horrible situation” “still has a right to life” and should “not be liable for the sins of the father.”
“This is a historic day. This is the day that the state of Oklahoma says: ‘We value all life, born and the unborn,’” Rep. Jim Olsen also said of Tuesday’s pro-life win.
Read the full version of Senate Bill 612 here.