Gov. Kevin Stitt (R-OK) signed a Texas-style abortion ban that prohibits the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy, just one day after the reveal of a draft opinion that indicates the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The bill, which was passed earlier this week by the state legislature, bans the procedure after fetal cardiac activity is detected, which is typically around six weeks. The ban is set to take effect immediately with Stitt’s signature, but pro-abortion rights groups have already challenged the new law in court, which may delay enforcement.
“I am proud to sign SB 1503, the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act into law,” Stitt said in a tweet Tuesday. “I want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country because I represent all four million Oklahomans who overwhelmingly want to protect the unborn.”
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The law allows for such abortions in the case of a medical emergency but makes no exceptions for rape or incest. It would also deputize civilians to sue anyone suspected of aiding and abetting the procedure for up to $10,000, following in the footsteps of a similar abortion ban passed in Texas last year that has so far held up in court.
A collection of groups, including the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, have filed a joint lawsuit with the Oklahoma Supreme Court to stop the law.
“There will be people who lose access, even if the halt in services is only brief,” said Emily Wales, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, according to the Associated Press.
The law is the latest in a string of abortion restrictions Stitt has approved over the past year. The Republican governor signed a bill April 12 that criminalizes abortion, making it punishable by up to 10 years in prison, with the only exception being to save the life of the mother. That bill is set to take effect this summer, though, like the others, critics argue it should be stricken down in court.
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The most recent law comes on the heels of Politico reporting Monday a draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe, a 1973 case in which the ruling legalized abortions nationwide. The leak prompted Chief Justice John Roberts to order an investigation by the marshal of the court. A final decision is expected in the coming weeks or months.
The number of abortions in Oklahoma has steadily declined over the past 20 years, with a 46% decline in procedures between 2002 and 2020, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. However, the state saw a surge in abortions from Texas women who traveled across state lines to receive the procedure after the Texas abortion law took effect.