Another abortion bill is headed to the Oklahoma governor’s desk after the legislature voted on Tuesday for at least the second major decision this month to prepare to end abortion in the state. State in anticipation of a Supreme Court ruling that could alter the trajectory of the proceedings this summer.
The Oklahoma House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the new legislation, which would act as a “trigger” bill in the event the Supreme Court reverses “in whole or in part” its existing precedent set in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Oklahoma already has a “trigger” rule on the books that would revert the state to its pre-Roe abortion policy if Roe were completely reversed, banning the procedure in most circumstances. But the new bill, SB 1555, would trigger or keep newer abortion policies in place even if Roe were only amended.
The development comes after Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill earlier this month making abortion at any stage of pregnancy a crime. Due to take effect this summer, 90 days after the end of the legislative session, the law would punish health care providers who perform an abortion with up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. He makes an exception only in the event of a threat to the life of the mother.
“I promised Oklahomans that I would sign any pro-life bill that came across my desk,” Stitt said as he prepared to sign the bill. “And that’s what we’re doing here today.”
The recently passed law directly opposes Supreme Court precedent, which protects access to abortion until fetal viability, generally understood by experts to mean 24 weeks of pregnancy. No state has succeeded in enforcing a total ban on abortion since the landmark 1973 case, Roe v. Wade.
But the Supreme Court is expected to rule this summer on a Mississippi abortion case that bars the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Experts believe that with the ruling on the Mississippi case, the High Court will overthrow Roe or significantly weaken him.
Earlier this month, Stitt acknowledged the bill is likely to be challenged in court, but added, “We’re glad the Supreme Court is looking at this issue and returning it to the states where it belongs.”
“We want to make all abortions illegal in the state of Oklahoma,” Stitt said. “It must be a state issue.”
Since September, the abortion landscape in Oklahoma has changed, as the state’s southern neighbor, Texas, banned abortion beyond six weeks of pregnancy. Oklahoma has since been inundated with patients seeking out-of-state abortions, according to a recent University of Texas at Austin study, which found Oklahoma provided about 45% of all abortions for patients. from Texas who traveled out of state to escape the new restrictions. Stitt said earlier this month that he hopes this bill will “curb” that trend.
Proponents of abortion access have warned that Oklahoma is becoming the next battleground on the issue.