Oklahoma Doctors Who Perform Abortions Face Jail Time After Bill Passage

The Republican-dominated Oklahoma House passed a bill 70-14 on Tuesday that would put medical professionals who perform abortions at risk of a felony conviction and jail time, sending it to the desk of Republican Governor Kevin Stitt.

Stitt has said he would sign any abortion-restriction legislation that comes to his desk, according to the Associated Press.

Multiple Republican-led states across the U.S. have passed or are considering similar legislation as they await a Supreme Court decision that could overturn nearly 50 years of legal precedent since the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.

The Oklahoma bill was one of several anti-abortion measures being debated in the state Legislature, which led demonstrators to hold a protest on Tuesday morning outside the state Capitol, according to Andy Weber of KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City.

The protest, called Bans Off Oklahoma, expected to have several reproductive rights groups like Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union in attendance, KOCO reported. Organizers said they expected thousands of people at the event.

The recently passed bill provides exceptions for abortions performed because the pregnancy could put the mother's life in danger. Representative Jim Olsen, who sponsored the bill, emphasized that it penalizes the doctors who perform abortions, not the women who receive them, the AP reported.

A doctor convicted of violating the law could face up to 10 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

"Anti-abortion lawmakers have outdone themselves this session, proposing nearly twenty abortion restrictions," Emily Wales, interim president of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, said in a statement to Newsweek. "Not only have they moved seven anti-abortion bills, including two Texas-style abortion bans, but as we rallied outside today, the House approved a total abortion ban—proving they seek complete control over the bodies and lives of Oklahomans."

Oklahoma Abortion Legislation Felony
Oklahoma's state House passed a bill today that would make it a felony for doctors to perform abortions. Above, womens rights activists march to the U.S. Capitol during the annual Womens March Oct. 2, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

The House also passed a resolution to fly flags in the state at half staff on January 22, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, to "mourn the innocent, preborn children who have lost their lives due to abortion."

If the anti-abortion bill is signed into law, Oklahoma no longer being a location for legal, safe abortions could have significant effects on neighboring states, as thousands of women from Texas have traveled to Oklahoma clinics in the months since the Texas ban on abortion was enacted.

"Oklahoma had the opportunity to lead the way in protecting access in the region instead of doubling down on cruel and harmful legislation," Priya Desai of Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice said in a statement. "These restrictions are rooted in white supremacy, patriarchy and bigotry. The harm from this legislation will fall the hardest on communities already facing the greatest challenges in our health care system including people of color, immigrants, trans and nonbinary people, rural people and young people."

Update 4/5/22, 3:05 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information.