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The White House condemned a new abortion bill that passed Oklahoma’s Legislature Thursday, calling the bill “extreme,” “absurd” and “ultra MAGA.”
The bill, H.B. 4327, would ban all abortions after the moment of conception except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life. The bill bans any procedures that “cause the death of an unborn child,” which it defines as a “human fetus or embryo in any stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.”
Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt has indicated that he will sign the bill, which will go into effect immediately.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemned the bill in a statement Thursday night.
“The President believes that women have the fundamental right to make their own reproductive health choices,” Jean-Pierre noted, adding that the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade “has been the law of the land for almost 50 years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned.”
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“Today’s action by the Oklahoma legislature is the most extreme effort to undo these fundamental rights we have seen to date,” the press secretary said. “In addition, it adopts Texas’ absurd plan to allow private citizens to sue their neighbors for providing reproductive health care and helping women to exercise their constitutional rights.”
“This is part of a growing effort by ultra MAGA officials across the country to roll back the freedoms we should not take for granted in this country,” Jean-Pierre added, referencing a Biden administration term playing off of former President Trump’s 2016 slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
She claimed that Trump-style Republicans “are starting with reproductive rights, but the American people need to know that other fundamental rights, including the right to contraception and marriage equality, are at risk.”
As Jean-Pierre noted, H.B. 4327 empowers non-governmental actors to bring civil suits against people who perform or aid and abet abortions, and damages for violating the law will be set at a minimum of $10,000 per abortion.
Gov. Stitt already signed a Texas-style ban that prohibits abortions after cardiac activity can be detected in the embryo, which is around six weeks. It also allows private citizens to sue anyone who helps a woman acquire an abortion for up to $10,000.
Stitt signed another bill that will make performing abortion a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. That will take effect later this year.
Planned Parenthood announced that it would challenge the new law in court once Stitt signs it.
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“This ban will take effect as soon as the governor signs the bill, making Oklahoma the first state to outlaw abortion entirely — even while Roe v. Wade still stands,” the organization said in a statement on Twitter. “[Planned Parenthood] and partners are taking Oklahoma to court.”
“Today, Oklahoma passed a law effectively banning abortion from the moment of fertilization—the latest in a series of blatant attacks on women by extremist legislators,” Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted in response to the bill’s passage. “It has never been more urgent that we elect pro-choice leaders at the local, state, and federal level.”
Pro-life advocates celebrated the law’s passage.
“Oklahomans are sending a strong message that all unborn children and their mothers in the Sooner State deserve urgent protection from the brutality of abortion,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement Thursday. “Science shows beyond the shadow of a doubt that unborn babies are human beings, with beating hearts by six weeks and the ability to feel pain by 15 weeks.”
“Oklahoma’s strong pro-life protections could save as many as 3,800 lives a year,” Dannenfelser added. “In contrast to the Biden-Harris administration that gives abortionists a platform to push a radical agenda, Governor Stitt and the legislature are standing up for the will of the people who overwhelmingly want to protect their most vulnerable citizens.”
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The bill’s passage comes in the wake of a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion striking down Roe v. Wade, a 1973 decision in which the Court struck down all state laws on abortion. Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed that Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in that case – Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – was genuine, but the draft dates back to February, and it does not represent the current or final opinion of the Court.
Other states with Republican legislatures have passed laws restricting abortion, with Texas and Idaho passing laws allowing private citizens to file civil suits against individuals who aid or abet abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, at about 6 weeks of pregnancy.
States with Democratic legislatures have passed laws codifying abortion in case Roe gets overturned. Gov. Jared Polis, D-Colo., signed a law creating a “fundamental right” to abortion and denying any right for the unborn. In 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., signed a law codifying abortion rights and explicitly removing protections from unborn infants.
The Connecticut legislature has passed a bill aimed at combating abortion restrictions in other states.
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While many polls suggest Americans support Roe, in-depth polling reveals a more complicated picture. When asked about their opinion on abortion during specific periods of pregnancy and other situations, 71% of Americans say they support restricting abortion to the first three months of pregnancy (22%), or in other limited circumstances such as rape and incest (28%), to save the life of the mother (9%) or not at all (12%). Only 17% of Americans said abortion should be available during an entire pregnancy and 12% said it should be restricted to the first six months.
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