Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a near-total ban on abortion Tuesday making the procedure a felony, with medical emergencies the sole exception.
“I promised Oklahomans that I would sign every pro-life bill that hit my desks, and that’s what we’re doing here today,” Stitt said at a morning signing ceremony. “We want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country. We want to outlaw abortion in the state of Oklahoma.”
The bill, passed unexpectedly by the Oklahoma Senate last week a year after approval in the state House, offers penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a six-figure fine for those who perform an abortion. No exceptions will exist for cases of rape or incest.
The pro-life measure comes as the Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority is on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade this summer. After oral arguments took place in December, a decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization contesting a Mississippi abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy is expected in June, with the potential to reverse the court’s landmark 1973 decision in Roe.
The Oklahoma law banning abortion outright will deter Texas residents from crossing state lines to evade Lone Star restrictions after Republicans in Austin banned the procedure after about six weeks of pregnancy last fall. The Supreme Court rejected opportunities to block the Texas law three times. As a result, Texan abortion seekers have sought to terminate pregnancies in Oklahoma, where Planned Parenthood clinics have reported a 2,500 percent patient increase from Texas.
“We certainly don’t want Texans coming up to Oklahoma,” Stitt said Tuesday. “That’s certainly not our intent, is to have Texans and other people from other states flood into our state to have abortions, so hopefully this bill will curb that.”
Despite President Joe Biden’s first pick confirmed to the Supreme Court last week, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the court’s 6-3 ideological balance favoring conservatives remains unchanged ahead of June’s decision in the Dobbs case as the high bench signals the end of Roe v. Wade as ruling precedent. Twenty-six states are expected to tighten restrictions on abortion if the Supreme Court overturns the nearly 50-year-old decision in Roe.