Update: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has vetoed the bill, according to local news affiliate KFOR. In her veto, Fallin wrote that the bill would not withstand a constitutional challenge. "While I consistently have and continue to support a re-examination of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, this legislation cannot accomplish that re-examination," she wrote. This story was originally published on May 19, 2016.
The Oklahoma Legislature has passed a bill that would make providing abortion a felony punishable by up to three years in prison, according to The Associated Press. The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm, would also prohibit a doctor convicted under the law from practicing medicine. The bill passed both the state House and Senate on Thursday afternoon without discussion or debate, and now goes to Gov. Mary Fallin for her signature. It is unclear whether Fallin, an anti-abortion Republican, will approve the bill. Via a spokesman, Fallin said that she needed time to consider the proposal.
Dahm, the bill's sponsor, was clear that the intent of the proposed law was to remove access to abortion. "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," he said, according to The AP. Critics say that the law is unconstitutional and is only designed to eliminate access to abortion. "This obviously unconstitutional bill will never withstand legal scrutiny, and is designed to scare doctors and shame women. It is a shameful new low for the anti-choice movement," Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement. "This bill is not about protecting women. It is about advancing a far-right wing agenda." The organization called on Fallin to veto the bill. "[Women] have a constitutional right to decide whether to end or continue a pregnancy, and states cannot ban abortion prior to viability. When these bans are challenged in court, they do not pass constitutional muster," read a statement from the Center for Reproductive Rights. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there were only five abortion providers in Oklahoma in 2011, and 55% of women in the state lived in a county with no provider. Oklahoma already requires a 24-hour waiting period and has a ban on abortion procedures after 20 weeks.