Roe v. Wade continues: Oklahoma seeks to punish abortion providers

Anti-abortion supporters pass by the U.S. Capitol en route to the Supreme Court during the National March for Life rally in Washington January 22, 2016. © Gary Cameron
The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill that would effectively ban abortion in the state by revoking the medical licenses of doctors who perform the procedure. The bill is waiting to be signed by Republican Governor Mary Fallin.

SB 1552, a bill with no exception for abortions to save the mother’s life or to abort a fetus that is not viable, was approved by the Republican-dominated Oklahoma House of Representatives on Thursday.

Senator Nathan Dahm, the Republican who authored the bill, told Reuters, "This is our proper function, to protect life.

Governor Fallin has yet to indicate whether she will sign the bill. Fallin has been endorsed by the National Right to Life Victory Fund, which described itself as “an independent expenditure political action committee dedicated to electing pro-life leaders to the White House and Congress” and “an outreach of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).

Democrats argued against the bill, urging their GOP colleagues to focus on the cause of unwanted pregnancies, pointing to bad economic conditions.

"If we take care of morality,” Republican supporter Senator David Brumbaugh, said during deliberations, "God will take care of the economy."

Opponents of the draconian measure also questioned whether the bill was constitutional or not and whether its passage could open the financially-burdened state to lawsuits.

As it stands, Oklahoma has two abortion providers for its 1,894,374 women. Amanda Allen, Senior State Legislative Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, released a press release calling the ban “cruel and unconstitutional,” citing Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey as precedent for the constitutional right to an abortion.

Despite the potential legal complications, the bill is very clear in its penalties towards abortion providers.

Any physician participating in the performance of an abortion shall be prohibited from obtaining or renewing a license to practice medicine in this state. The State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision shall revoke the license of an allopathic physician performing an abortion in this state. The State Board of Osteopathic Examiners shall revoke the license of an osteopathic physician performing an abortion in this state,” the bill says.

Considering an estimated 200,000 to 1.2 million illegal abortions were performed during the 1950s and 60s when abortion was illegal in the US, many are concerned about the ramifications of SB 1552 for women.

When abortion is illegal, women and their health, futures, and families suffer,” Allen said.