Sammy Nickalls
May 19, 2016 1:07 pm
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Today, Oklahoma took a staggering step backwards in the world of women’s rights after passing a bill that criminalizes abortion. Senate Bill 1552, which is sponsored by Republican senator Nathan Dahm, would make it a felony to perform an abortion, and doctors who did not comply would face up to three years in prison and would be unable to renew their medical licenses. If the bill is signed into law by the state’s governor, abortion will be illegal in Oklahoma.

“No person shall perform or induce an abortion upon a pregnant woman,” the bill reads. “. . . Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not less than one (1) year nor more than three (3) years in the State Penitentiary.”

The only exception that the bill acknowledges is in the case where the mother’s life is endangered; the bill makes no exceptions for rape or incest. “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,” Dahm said, according to the Associated Press. Dahm added that he hopes the measure could overturn Roe v. Wade, the ’70s case which legalized abortion across the nation.

The bill, which the AP notes is the first of its kind in the nation, passed the state’s senate with a 33-12 vote and no discussion or debate. It will now head to the desk of Republican governor Mary Fallin.

“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 Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), said in a statement. “The [CRR] is closely watching this bill and we strongly urge Governor Fallin to reject this cruel and unconstitutional ban.”

Oklahoma’s House also passed legislation today that would require the state’s Department of Health to create informational material for the purpose of “achieving an abortion free-society,” though lawmakers have not approved funding for it. The legislation now goes to the state’s senate and would require the Department of Health to provide information on alternatives to abortion, as well as the developmental stages of a fetus.

As the AP notes, abortion rights supporters have claimed that the bill is unconstitutional and that it will immediately be challenged.

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