Oklahoma's Bill Banning Abortion 'At Fertilization' Includes Troubling Obstacles for Sexual Assault Survivors

by Natalie Kiser

May 19, 2022 at 3:48pm PM EDT

abortion protest sign anti-abortion bans

Oklahoma's latest state-level ban would limit access to the procedure almost completely in the state. vivalapenle/Adobe Stock

Oklahoma has passed what is now the United States’ strictest reproductive bill, outlawing nearly all abortions that start “at fertilization.”

roe v wade overturned abortion access

Related story How to Talk to Your Kids About Abortion Rights

The bill, HB-4327, is based on Texas’ anti-abortion law which is primarily enforced by civilians and not law enforcement. Oklahoma’s is even more restrictive however, as Texas’ starts at six weeks and Oklahoma’s the literal (alleged) moment of conception, defining unborn children as “a human fetus or embryo in any stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.”

The only exceptions are those medically necessary to “save the life of the unborn child” or the life of the parent “in a medical emergency.” The law also technically allows abortion if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, but such is only the case if it’s been reported to law enforcement. This presents yet another problem: only one out of three assaults is reported in the first place. 

Furthermore, the bill subjects both abortion providers and individuals who “aid or abet” the termination of subsequent pregnancies to civil suits from fellow citizens. This includes anyone who “helped pay” for the procedure, potentially implicating strangers who donate donations to organizations that specialize in helping people in restrictive states receive abortion care. Those who sue could be compensated for up to $10,000.

The law will go into effect immediately upon receiving Gov. Kevin Stitt’s signature, who defended his belief that rape victims should not be exempt from abortion laws on Fox News last weekend. 

“That’s super super hard, and we’re going to do everything we can to help them,” Stitt said, per State Impact Oklahoma. “But aborting that child, we don’t think that’s the right thing to do.”

Stitt similarly did not budge when queried about the fact that more than one in five children live under the poverty line, or that Oklahoma ranks 42nd for overall child well-being in the country: “Here’s the deal, is the answer to the socialist Democrat left to abort poor kids? That’s just ridiculous, to even quote those type of stats,” he continued. “We have a free market in Oklahoma. We believe that God has a special plan for every single life.”

Once signed, this bill will eradicate yet another resource for Texas residents who have been forced to cross the border for reproductive care .

“We’ve already been doing that now for months with Texans, who in many cases thought that they did have exceptions,” Emily Wales, Planned Parenthood Great Plains’ interim president and CEO, told State Impact. “They were shocked to learn when they went to get care locally that they were not covered, that there was no reason that they would be exempt from the law in Texas. So we’ve had patients come to us and say, ‘I’ve been in this awful situation, can you please help me?’’ And now we’re going to have to say, ‘No, we can’t.’” 

Before you go, check out celebrities who shared their abortion stories to support reproductive rights: 

celebrity abortion stories