Oklahoma governor signs abortion ban

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law on Tuesday that makes it a felony to perform an abortion, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The bill, which takes effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns next month, makes an exception only for an abortion performed to save the life of the mother. Abortion rights advocates say the bill signed by the GOP governor is certain to face a legal challenge.

Its passage comes as the conservative U.S. Supreme Court considers ratcheting back abortion rights that have been in place for nearly 50 years.

"We want to outlaw abortion in the state of Oklahoma," Stitt said during a signing ceremony for the bill, flanked by anti-abortion lawmakers, clergy and students. "I promised Oklahomans that I would sign every pro-life bill that hits my desk. And that's what we're doing here today."

Under the bill, anyone convicted of performing an abortion would face up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. It does not authorize criminal charges against a woman for receiving an abortion.

State Sen. Nathan Dahm, a Republican of Broken Arrow, said it "effectively eliminates abortion in Oklahoma."

Dahm said the bill would apply to any physicians in Oklahoma who dispense abortion medication to women, which accounted for about 64% of all abortions performed in Oklahoma in 2020, the most recent year for which statistics were available. There is no enforcement mechanism in the bill for women who order abortion medication online from out-of-state suppliers.

Similar laws approved recently in Arkansas and Alabama have been blocked by federal courts.


Elsewhere, women will have to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion under a ruling by a Florida judge in a nearly seven-year battle over the waiting period.

Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey in Tallahassee tossed out a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Gainesville women's clinic, saying other medical procedures have similar waiting periods and other important decisions like getting married, getting divorced and buying a gun have longer waiting periods.

"Twenty-four hours is the minimum time needed to sleep on such an important decision," Dempsey wrote.

The waiting period goes into effect once Dempsey signs an additional piece of paperwork. She also added that exceptions for the life of a mother, documented cases of rape and incest, and victims of domestic violence and human trafficking support the constitutionality of the law.

Then-Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law in June 2015. The ACLU of Florida and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed the suit the next day on behalf of the Bread and Roses Women's Health Center in Gainesville.

A trial court initially threw it out without a full trial, finding it unconstitutional. In a 2-1 ruling, the 1st District Court of Appeal sent the lawsuit back to the circuit court, saying the state had built evidence that supports the constitutionality of the law.

The court also lifted an injunction that was temporarily blocking the law from taking effect during legal proceedings. The state Supreme Court quickly put the injunction back in place while the case continued.

Information for this article was contributed by Sean Murphy, Brendan Farrington and Adriana Gomez Licon of The Associated Press.

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