The Freedom From Religion Foundation is sounding the alarm that religious extremists in control of statehouses and gubernatorial offices are decimating our reproductive liberties.
The latest such assault occurred yesterday, when the Oklahoma House approved a copycat abortion-ban-and-bounty bill modeled after a Texas law, not only banning abortions at six weeks, but also deputizing citizens to sue any physician or person who “aids or abets” in such an abortion. Given the fact that Gov. Kevin Stitt has tweeted that he will sign any piece of anti-abortion legislation, this cruel bill will undoubtedly soon be enacted and go into immediate effect.
It would not only deny abortion care to Oklahomans, but further throw into chaos Texans who have flocked to Oklahoma as a sanctuary state for legal abortion care since Texas enacted its ban last September. Oklahoma clinics have taken on an average of 600 additional patients per month.
The relentlessness of Oklahoma anti-abortionist legislators is shown by the fact that earlier this month, Stitt signed into law a bill that outlaws abortion almost entirely, with no exception for rape and incest and fines of up to $100,000 for physicians. Anti-choice legislators couldn’t even wait till August and pushed through a different immediate ban.
The newest ban in question, SB 1503, is misnamed the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act: As Dr. Ted Anderson, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, explains, such phrases “do not reflect medical accuracy or clinical understanding” and that it is not a heartbeat, but rather “induced flickering of a portion of the fetal tissue.” Most women do not even realize they are pregnant at six weeks’ gestation, which is two weeks after a missed period. Religiously rooted legislators don’t look to medical accuracy and scientific evidence to craft their legislation, unfortunately.
Beyond the ban, the Oklahoma bill deputizes private citizens to bring lawsuits and win up to $10,000 against anyone who “induces an abortion, intends to perform an abortion, or knowingly aids or abets an abortion.” Oklahoma joins Idaho as the latest state to pass a Texas-style abortion ban.
Reproductive health assistant Marie Hoffmann at Planned Parenthood in Tulsa explains the horror that abortion patients are facing: “On top of already being anxious enough about having to have an abortion, how much that’s going to cost, how she’s going to get here and just the anxiety of having an abortion ... then she has to worry about whether or not she is going to be able to keep this appointment.” The bans will create a tiered system in which only women who have the resources, money and means to travel out of state will be able to end unwanted pregnancies, as the Tulsa Planned Parenthood abortion provider Dr. Joshua Yapp observes.
“We have to stop calling them ‘anti-abortion bills’ and start calling them what they are: compulsory-birth legislation,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. Oklahoma traditionally has one of the lowest percentages of female legislators in the nation.
In these scary times, donating to abortion funds is more important than ever. Find local or state abortion funds here, such as the Women’s Medical Fund, an all-volunteer fund started by FFRF’s principal co-founder Anne Nicol Gaylor that helps an average of 900-1,000 Wisconsin residents obtain affordable abortion care each year.
We need to come together in the fact of anti-abortion fanaticism.