The bill makes exceptions for cases of rape and incest, but only if those crimes have been reported to law enforcement.
Understand the Challenge to Roe v. Wade
The Supreme Court’s decision could be the most consequential to women’s access to abortion since 1973.
An Oklahoma Democrat, Cyndi Munson, in an exchange on the House floor with a Republican sponsor of the bill, said that many women — especially young girls who may be victims of incest — do not report rape or incest to law enforcement.
“Can you explain to me why you’re OK with a person carrying on a pregnancy after they have been raped or there has been instances of incest?” Ms. Munson asked. “You understand what incest is, correct? You are OK with that?”
“I am OK with preserving the life of the child,” Wendi Stearman, the Republican sponsor, responded. “The child was not part of that decision.”
Abortion opponents are increasingly leaning on civilian enforcement to accomplish longstanding goals. Even if no lawsuits are filed against abortion providers, civilian enforcement laws have led to a chilling effect among abortion providers and abortion pill distributors who stop their work out of fear of being sued.
“This isn’t a fire drill,” said Emily Wales, the president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which has operations in Oklahoma. “This is not a rehearsal for what’s to come. We are living in this real world right now. The Supreme Court will finalize that this summer.”
Other states have attempted to ban abortions throughout pregnancy, but have been stopped by court order because under the Roe decision, states cannot prohibit abortion before viability, or roughly 24 weeks. States including Mississippi have attempted ballot initiatives that define fetuses as persons, making abortion murder, but have failed.