Oklahoma Criminalizes Abortion

Oklahoma Criminalizes Abortion

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(Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Today, Oklahoma lawmakers banned the practice of abortion in their state by making it a felony for doctors to perform the procedure. The bill is aimed at ultimately overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

The bill, which abortion rights group “Center for Reproductive Rights” says is the first of its kind in the nation, also would restrict any physician who performs an abortion from obtaining or renewing a license to practice medicine in Oklahoma.

The bill passed 33-12 with no discussion or debate. Sen. Nathan Dahm made it clear that he hopes his bill could lead to eventually overturning Roe v. Wade.

“Since I believe life begins at conception, it should be protected, and I believe it’s a core function of state government to defend that life from the beginning of conception,” said Sen. Dahm.

“Oklahoma politicians have made it their mission year after year to restrict women’s access vital health care services, yet this total ban on abortion is a new low,” Amanda Allen, an attorney for the New-York based center said in a statement. “The Center for Reproductive Rights is closely watching this bill and we strongly urge Governor Fallin to reject this cruel and unconstitutional ban.”

Thursday’s vote in the Senate comes as the Oklahoma Legislature nears a May 27 deadline for adjournment and is still grappling with a $1.3 billion budget hole that could lead to deep cuts to public schools, health care and the state’s overcrowded prison system.

Also Thursday, the Oklahoma House approved a bill that requires the state Department of Health to develop informational material “for the purpose of achieving an abortion-free society,” but lawmakers didn’t approve any funding for it. The measure, which now goes to the Senate, requires the health department to produce information about alternatives to abortion and the developmental stages of a fetus, but the bill’s sponsor says it cannot be implemented without any funding.

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