Oklahoma Lawmakers Pass 6-Week Abortion Ban Modeled On Texas Law That Allows Civil Enforcement | New

A person holds flags during the Bans Off Oklahoma rally on the steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman via AP)

(CNN) – Oklahoma lawmakers on Thursday gave final approval to a bill inspired by the controversial Texas abortion law, which allows private citizens to file civil suits against abortion providers. to enforce the law.

It’s the latest bill passed this month by the Oklahoma legislature to restrict abortion rights, amid a move by Republican-led states to dramatically restrict the procedure.

The “Oklahoma Heartbeat Law”, Senate Bill 1503 would ban abortions the moment a doctor can detect early heart activity in an embryo or fetus, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy — before many women even know they are pregnant. The measure provides exceptions for medical emergencies.

The bill would also allow private citizens to bring a civil lawsuit against a person who performs or induces an abortion, intends to perform an abortion, or knowingly aids or abets an abortion, such as by paying for the procedure. Under the bill, the relief would include at least $10,000 in statutory damages for each abortion performed or assisted by the defendant in violation of the law, legal fees and compensatory damages.

The bill would bar civil suits against certain people, including the woman who had an abortion or who requested the procedure. The bill would also prohibit a person who has impregnated a woman through rape, sexual assault or incest from bringing a civil action.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, has pledged to sign any abortion-restricting bills that come to his office. Once signed, the bill would come into effect immediately. CNN has reached out to the governor’s office for comment.

Earlier this month, Stitt signed a bill which makes performing an abortion illegal in the state, with an exception only for medical emergencies. The law, which will take effect this summer, makes performing or attempting to perform an abortion a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $100,000 or a maximum of 10 years in state prison, or of them.

Oklahoma State Rep. Todd Russ, who championed the bill in the House, previously told CNN that if the near-total ban enacted earlier this month comes under an appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, his bill could still stand, noting that the High Court had allowed the Texas law to go into effect.

The bill passed the Republican-majority state House on Thursday in a vote of 68 to 12. The GOP-led state Senate approved the measure last month by a vote of 33 against 11.

Planned Parenthood said it would go to court to end the latest ban. Emily Wales, acting president of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, told CNN the so-called heartbeat bill is “more concerning in many ways” than the near-total ban, in part because ‘It’s inspired by Texas law that abortion providers and advocates have struggled to block.

Oklahoma is the latest state to approve legislation similar to Texas, after Idaho last month became the first state to pass legislation similar to Texas law. The Idaho law, however, was temporarily blocked by the state Supreme Court in a lawsuit brought by abortion providers.

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