Oklahoma legislature passes 6-week abortion ban similar to Texas law

The bill prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

April 28, 2022, 5:22 PM

The Oklahoma legislature gave final approval Thursday to a so-called "heartbeat bill" that seeks to ban most abortions in the state.

It is the latest bill in the U.S. modeled after the strict Texas law that prohibits abortions after six weeks, before most women know they're pregnant.

Formally called S.B. 1503, but known as the "Oklahoma Heartbeat Act," the bill bans abortions after cardiac activity can be detected in an embryo or fetus. There are exceptions for when the mother's life is at risk, but not for rape or incest.

This is not the first abortion ban that Oklahoma has passed in 2022. Earlier this month, lawmakers passed a bill that would make performing an abortion a felony, punishable by up to several years in prison.

The bill also allows any private citizen to sue someone who performs an abortion, intends to perform an abortion or helps a woman gets an abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. These citizens could be awarded at least $10,000 for every abortion performed.

Dani Thayer, left, and Marina Lanae, right, both of Tulsa, Okla., hold pro-choice signs at the state Capitol, April 13, 2022, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Sue Ogrocki/AP

However, a civil lawsuit cannot be brought against a woman who receives an abortion. Additionally, someone who impregnated a woman through rape or incest would not be allowed to sue.

The bill is now heading to the desk of Gov. Kevin Stitt, who is expected to sign it. Because of the bill's emergency clause, it will go into effect once signed by the governor.

“We want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country,” Stitt said when he signed the previous abortion bill. “We want to outlaw abortion in the state of Oklahoma.”

The governor's office told ABC News in a statement it "does not comment on pending legislation."

“The Texas law has already saved the lives of many unborn children," Republican state. Sen. Julie Daniels, who sponsored S.B. 1503, said in a statement last month. "We can achieve the same result in Oklahoma with SB 1503."

Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights said they plan to ask the Oklahoma State Court to block the bill before it goes into effect and ends most abortion care in the state.

"Unless these abortion bans are stopped, Oklahomans will be robbed of the freedom to control their own bodies and futures," Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "Unless these bans are blocked, patients will be turned away, people seeking abortion will be unable to access essential care in their own communities, and their loved ones could be stopped from supporting them due to fear of being sued."

Since the law in Texas went into effect in September 2021, thousands of women have flocked to Oklahoma to receive the procedure.

A recent study from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project at the University of Texas Austin found that of the 1,500 women that traveled out of state every month to receive abortion since September, 45% visited Oklahoma.

Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said the organization has served hundreds of women who have traveled from Texas to Oklahoma to seek abortion care.

"Now, rather than serving as a haven for patients unable to get care at home, Oklahoma politicians have made outcasts of their own people," Wales said in a statement. "With today's filings, we lift up the patients who will otherwise be unable to get care and ask the court to do its most essential function: honor the constitution and the individuals who need its protections."

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks after signing into law a bill making it a felony to perform an abortion, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, April 12, 2022, in Oklahoma City.
Sue Ogrocki/AP

Under the bill making performing abortion a felony, any medical provider who performs an abortion would face a fine of $100,000 and up to 10 years in prison. The only exceptions for performing an abortion would be if the mother's life is in danger.

Several Republican-led states have been passing abortion legislation ahead of a Supreme Court decision in June that will decide the future of Roe v. Wade. The court will review a 15-week ban in Mississippi and decide whether or not it is constitutional. If the ban is declared constitutional, it could lead to Roe v. Wade being overturned or severely gutted.

ABC News' Ely Brown contributed to this report.

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