OKLAHOMA CITY -- Republican leaders in Oklahoma said Thursday they want to join at least five other states in automatically banning abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
GOP Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat said a bill will be drafted and considered next week that would make Oklahoma the sixth state with a "trigger" abortion ban. The Republican governor in neighboring Arkansas signed a similar measure this week, and comparable laws are on the books in Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Abortion opponents are more hopeful the nation's high court will overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision since President Donald Trump has appointed two more conservatives.
"When Roe v. Wade is overturned, which is all of our hope and desire in the Republican caucus, the law that was in place pre-1973 that made abortion a felony in Oklahoma would be reinstituted," Treat said while flanked by several Senate GOP leaders.
The only exception to Oklahoma's previous ban on abortion was to save the life of the mother, he said.
Abortion rights supporters immediately denounced the proposal as an attempt to return Oklahoma to a time when abortions were dangerous and unsafe.
"The bottom line is that these types of trigger laws to ban abortion only ban safe abortions," said Tamya Cox-Toure, a policy director for Planned Parenthood Great Plains. "That's why Roe v. Wade was enacted in the first place. Abortions were still happening and women were losing their lives due to unsafe abortions."
Treat also announced a separate bill to make it a felony to perform an abortion in Oklahoma would not be given a hearing.
That bill, endorsed by a group of abortion opponents who want to completely outlaw the procedure despite the high court's ruling, was criticized Thursday by officials with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, one of the state's most politically powerful religious groups.
In an open letter to Oklahoma Baptists, several of the group's leaders said the proposal would likely be immediately invalidated by the courts, a sentiment Treat echoed.
"Senate Bill 13, in my estimation, is fatally flawed," Treat said. "It is unenforceable and unconstitutional on its face."
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