Today, the Oklahoma Senate Committee on Health and Human Services voted in favor of H.B. 4327, a total abortion ban with a private enforcement mechanism modeled on Texas S.B. 8. By sending this ban to its final vote on the Senate floor, Oklahoma legislators have doubled down on their efforts to eliminate abortion access.
Just last week, the Oklahoma House approved another total abortion ban, S.B. 612, which would make performing an abortion a felony punishable with up to ten years in prison and a $100,000 fine. The bill is expected to be signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt as early as tomorrow morning. The House is also considering a second S.B. 8 copycat, the six-week abortion ban S.B. 1503, which also contains a “sue-thy-neighbor” enforcement clause.
Any one of these bills poses a severe threat to abortion access for the region. Many Texans seeking abortion have turned to Oklahoma providers for care, with some providers reporting a nearly 2500% increasein Texas patients compared to 2020. Access is at a tipping point, with some Oklahomans already traveling to other states for care. If Oklahoma health centers are forced to stop providing abortion, the ripple effect will be felt throughout the region.
Statement from Tamya Cox-Touré, executive director, ACLU of Oklahoma:
“Everyone deserves the right to make their own decisions about their bodies and their future — including the decision to have an abortion. But once again, Oklahoma politicians are continuing to push a cruel partisan agenda to control people’s reproductive freedom.
“H.B. 4327 will lead to real life consequences, that force people to carry pregnancies against their will or, if they have the means, flee the state to get an abortion. Make no mistake, the burden of pushing abortion out of reach falls hardest on people who already face systemic racism and discrimination in this country, including Black and Brown communities, people with disabilities, and 2SLGBTQ+ people, as well as people who are young, have low-incomes, or live in rural areas. We will continue doing everything in our power to ensure everyone can get the care they need.”
Statement from Emily Wales, interim president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes:
“It’s as though Oklahoma politicians can’t get enough. First, they pass a blatantly unconstitutional law banning Oklahomans from exercising their right to make private medical decisions. Now, they’re piling on with yet another vigilante, bounty-hunter law copied from anti-choice politicians’ Texas playbook. Maybe they should save us all some time and say out loud what they actually believe: that pregnant people in Oklahoma deserve less in the way of constitutional protections. But I’ll give them this: Oklahoma politicians sure are consistent. They consistently ignore the state’s pressing needs including some of the highest maternal mortality in the country. Rather than focus on actual public health crises, they’re falling over each other to pass the cruelest abortion bans in the country.”
Statement from Myfy Jensen-Fellows, advocacy director, Trust Women:
“The past seven months have shown us what a world without abortion access looks like. In the aftermath of Texas’ astonishingly cruel SB 8, our clinic in Oklahoma City has been inundated with Texans who have traveled hundreds of miles to access constitutionally protected abortion care. The volume of patients has not decreased, and the impact on Oklahoman’s access to abortion care in their own communities has been significant: patients from Oklahoma are now routinely traveling out of state to access timely abortion care, including many who are visiting our clinic in Wichita, Kansas.
“Oklahoma’s anti-abortion legislators have turned the health care crisis created by Texas’ SB 8 into an opportunity to double-down on cruelty. HB 4327 bans abortions after fertilization and will certainly create dangerous health outcomes for pregnant people. We will continue to provide as much health care as is legally possible in Oklahoma. While our hearts are breaking for the people of Oklahoma, our clinics will stay open.”