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Oklahoma Legislature passes nation’s most restrictive abortion ban

The Oklahoma Legislature on Thursday passed a bill banning nearly all abortions, the latest and most severe in a string of anti-abortion measures approved in the state in recent months.

Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, is expected to sign the measure, H.B. 4327, which would prohibit abortions after “fertilization” with few exceptions, making it the most restrictive such law in the country. It passed the Republican-controlled House by a vote of 73-16.

Similar to a Texas law that went into effect last year, it contains a provision allowing citizens to file civil suits against any person who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.”

The Oklahoma bill includes exceptions to save the life of a pregnant woman or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest that has been reported to law enforcement.

It was passed several weeks after Stitt signed into law a measure banning abortions after six weeks, and another that makes it a felony to perform an abortion that’s set to go into effect later this year.

Abortion-rights supporters rally at the State Capitol on May 3, 2022, in Oklahoma City.Sue Ogrocki / AP file

The six-week ban had already resulted in the state’s four abortion clinics turning away patients, NBC News reported this month.

“I promised Oklahomans that I would sign every pro-life bill that hits my desk,” Stitt said in April during a signing ceremony for the felony bill. “We want to outlaw abortion in the state of Oklahoma.”

The White House blasted the new Oklahoma bill Thursday night, calling it the “most extreme effort” to undo fundamental 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,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “They 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.”

While other anti-abortion bills approved by the Oklahoma Legislature in recent years have been stopped as unconstitutional, the new measure was passed after a draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito indicated that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The high court has confirmed the authenticity of the draft opinion, leaked to Politico earlier this month, which would overturn the constitutional right to an abortion enshrined in the nearly 50-year-old Roe decision, leaving states to set their own policies.

The final decision in the case could come in late June or early July, and it is possible that the justices’ final votes and the decision may change.

Associated Press and Zoë Richards contributed.

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