Oklahoma governor bans abortion after the sixth week of gestation in the midst of Supreme Court debate on termination of pregnancy
The U.S. population holds radically different positions on the legality of abortion, with wide shades of support and opposition. Its possible repeal as a constitutional right, secretly agreed by the conservative majority of the Supreme Court in February and leaked this week by Politico, would put an end to half a century of existence of the current Roe v. Wade Act, in force since 1973.
Many policymakers, moreover, have taken the opportunity to push their own state rules before any repeal or new court proceedings go into effect.
“I am proud to sign SB1503, the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act. I want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country because I represent the four million Oklahomans who overwhelmingly want to protect the unborn,” Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt posted on his social media.
The state governed by the Republican approved, just hours after learning of the existence of the Supreme Court draft, a law to ban abortion after six weeks of gestation, a period in which many women still do not know they are pregnant.
On April 6, Oklahoma passed first in the House of Representatives, without debate or questions on the floor, and then in the Senate, with 70 votes in favor and 14 against, this anti-abortion bill. Thus, the Midwestern state of the United States gave way to the historic prohibition of all forms of abortion, without exception in cases of incest or rape, facing high fines and up to 10 years behind bars for those who do not comply.
I am proud to sign SB 1503, the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act into law.
I want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country because I represent all four million Oklahomans who overwhelmingly want to protect the unborn. pic.twitter.com/XQr7khRLRa
— Governor Kevin Stitt (@GovStitt) May 3, 2022
With the Supreme Court’s decision, if carried out, the United States would become a global exception in pushing for measures to roll back access to abortion, contrary to what other countries have been gradually implementing over the past decades. Only three nations, since 1995, have tightened existing abortion laws worldwide: El Salvador, Nicaragua and Poland. Fifty-nine other countries, by contrast, expanded them during that same time period.
Currently, about a dozen countries in the world authorize abortion for any reason, with no exceptions, beyond 15 weeks of pregnancy, the maximum limit established by the Mississippi law that just a few months ago led the US Supreme Court to consider revoking the constitutional right established almost fifty years ago.
Although it has not yet been confirmed whether the leaked draft is the final version, the president of the highest judicial institution, Justice John Roberts, did confirm the authenticity of the document. The text, according to the Supreme Court justice, “does not represent the final position of any member on the issues in the case,” which will have to be debated at the seat of the High Court before a vote is taken.
A nationwide ban on abortion rights would leave it up to the states themselves to regulate it and, depending on the weight of each party and their opposing ideologies, those states would have their own restrictions on the rule and, consequently, its application. State and local governors, Democrats and Republicans, would have the final say in deciding what for decades has been a constitutional right and, with it, the responsibility to represent the interests of their citizens.
If the U.S. Supreme Court changes the doctrine in force since 1973, it is expected that more than twenty states in the country will totally restrict abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with no exceptions in cases of rape, incest or risk to the health of the pregnant woman.