Oklahoma state lawmakers voted to criminalize abortion Tuesday, approving a measure that would make performing the procedure a felony punishable by up to 10 years behind bars.
The GOP-led House voted overwhelmingly to send the bill to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who had pledged to sign it. It was passed by the state senate last year.
The measure would make an exception only if an abortion was performed to save the mother, lawmakers said.
Doctors who perform abortions under other circumstances would face a $100,000 fine in addition to a long prison sentence. Patients would not be prosecuted.
“The penalties are for the doctor, not for the woman,” GOP state Rep. Jim Olsen.
The proposal was the latest aggressive anti-abortion bill introduced by Republican-led statehouses since Texas banned abortions last fall, as the US Supreme Court considers overturning a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, which was established in 1973.
Similar bills passed by Oklahoma City legislators in recent years were shot down by the nation’s high court.
Lawmakers passed Tuesday’s bill with little discussion and no debate while also approving a resolution that called on state residents to fly flags at half-staff on the anniversary of the passage of Roe v. Wade.
The legislative action came as more than 100 people rallied outside the capitol in support of abortion rights.
“These legislators have continued their relentless attacks on our freedoms,” said Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes.
“These restrictions are not about improving the safety of the work that we do. They are about shaming and stigmatizing people who need and deserve abortion access.”
Planned Parenthoods in Oklahoma had seen an 800% increase in patients from Texas after the neighboring state banned abortion without exceptions following the detection of a fetal heartbeat, the activist said.
With AP wires