Oklahoma’s Republican-led Legislature passed a bill Tuesday that bans all abortions except in cases of a "medical emergency" — a measure that seems clearly unconstitutional.
Senate Bill 612 would make performing abortions a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine, effectively denying pregnant people their constitutionally protected right to abortion as affirmed by the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Oklahoma Republicans’ effort to step on the Constitution fits a trend of GOP-controlled states rushing to pass abortion restrictions with an expectation that the conservative-tilted Supreme Court will soon overturn or severely weaken Roe v. Wade’s abortion protections.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, is all but certain to sign the anti-abortion law, considering he vowed during his election campaign to sign all anti-abortion measures that reach his desk.
In the past, even some of the strictest GOP-backed anti-abortion laws have carved out exceptions for rape and incest, but Oklahoma’s bill includes no such exceptions.
The bill’s author in the Oklahoma House, GOP Rep. Jim Olsen, told CNN pregnancies resulting from those crimes are a “horrible situation.” But, he claimed, “the baby should not be liable for the sins of the father” and the fetus “still has a right to life.”
That rationale is absurd and cruel but not uncommon among conservatives. According to this biblical interpretation, the sins of the rapist and incestuous father are being rewarded with a child, while the victim faces the ultimate punishment: forced pregnancy on behalf of their abuser. And in Oklahoma, a state with one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the country, forcing a person to carry and birth a baby against their will may well be a death sentence.
As I wrote in February, the GOP’s refusal to grapple with that fact exposes its “pro-life” stances as a farce.
Nonetheless, Oklahoma is one of several states under Republican control that look like they’re getting a head start on banning abortions before the looming Supreme Court decision. In the last month alone, Republican governors in Arizona, Idaho and South Dakota have all signed bills into law that severely restrict abortion rights.
The current Supreme Court — one-third of it packed with justices selected by then-President Donald Trump — has been assembled for the explicit purpose of outlawing abortion.
But GOP lawmakers aren’t waiting on the court to issue a fatal blow to Roe v. Wade. They’re trying to establish that radically theocratic vision all on their own.