Oklahoma Lawmakers Criminalize Abortion

Unconstitutional and unprecedented: Lawmakers in Oklahoma make abortion a felony.

Thursday Oklahoma’s Senate passed controversial legislation that makes performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to three years in prison. The legislation passed with no discussion or debate, with the state Senate voting 33-12 in favor of the measure.

The legislation now goes to Oklahoma’s Republican Governor Mary Fallin, who now must decide whether to sign or veto the bill. If she does nothing in the next five days, the bill will become law.

Fallin said she has not decided what she will do.

According to the measure, known as Senate Bill 1552, a person who performs or induces an abortion will be guilty of a felony and punished with between one and three years in the state penitentiary.

This legislation also says that any physician who participates in an abortion — deemed “unprofessional conduct” in the bill — will be “prohibited from obtaining or renewing a license to practice medicine in this state.”

Republican state Sen. Nathan Dahm, who proposed the measure, said he wants the legislation to become a driving force in bringing down Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion. Dahm said:

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.

Democratic presidential front-runner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took to Twitter Thursday to condemn the legislature’s decision, tweeting:

We can’t sit by while extreme politicians attack women’s basic rights. Not only is this unconstitutional—it’s wrong.

NARAL Pro-Choice America sounded a similar theme. NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said:

Against a backdrop of a presidential nominee threatening to punish women for accessing abortion, Oklahoma’s new bill criminalizing this vital reproductive service is reckless and dangerous. This bill puts doctors in the crosshairs for providing women with the option of exercising our fundamental right to decide how and when to start a family.

In a statement concerning the legislation, Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said:

This is a ban on abortion, plain and simple. Punishing doctors for performing a legal, medical procedure is an assault on women.

Bottom line: The Republican war on women continues.

Oklahoma Capitol Building (Image via Wikimedia)
Oklahoma Capitol Building (Image via Wikimedia)
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