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Oklahoma lawmakers approved a measure Thursday that thumbs its nose at the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade by making the performing of an abortion a felony within the state.
“No person shall perform or induce an abortion upon a pregnant woman,” the bill’s language reads, striking through the clause “unless that person is a physician licensed to practice medicine in the State of Oklahoma.”
“Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not less than one (1) year nor more than three (3) years in the State Penitentiary,” the bill continues.
In addition, any physician who has performed the procedure would be unable to obtain or renew a license to practice medicine in the Sooner State.
The Senate’s vote wasn’t even close — 33-12 — and Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, who is strongly pro-life, has until Wednesday of next week to sign it into law.
Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm, the bill’s sponsor,
“Since I believe life begins at conception, it should be protected, and I believe it’s a core function of state government to defend that life from the beginning of conception,” said Dahm, according to The Associated Press.
Pro-choice advocates call the measure unconstitutional. Republican Sen. Ervin Yen, the only physician in the Oklahoma Senate, took it further, calling the measure “insane” and voted against it.
“Oklahoma politicians have made it their mission year after year to restrict women’s access to vital health care services, yet this total ban on abortion is a new low,” Amanda Allen, an attorney for the New-York based center said in a statement. “The Center for Reproductive Rights is closely watching this bill and we strongly urge Governor Fallin to reject this cruel and unconstitutional ban.”
The AP reported:
Nearly every year, Oklahoma lawmakers have passed bills imposing new restrictions on abortions, but many of those laws have never taken effect. In all, eight of the state’s separate anti-abortion measures have been challenged in court as unconstitutional in the last five years.
Thursday’s vote in the Senate comes as the Oklahoma Legislature nears a May 27 deadline for adjournment and is still grappling with a $1.3 billion budget hole that could lead to deep cuts to public schools, health care and the state’s overcrowded prison system.
“Republicans don’t have an answer for their failed education policies, failing health care policies and failing fiscal policies, so what do you do in that situation?” said Senate Democratic leader Sen. John Sparks. “You come up with an emotional distraction. That’s what this bill is.”
Also on Thursday, the Oklahoma House passed 69-15 a measure that would permit the state’s Health Department develop a public information campaign “for the purpose of achieving an abortion-free society.”
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