It's the most restrictive abortion ban in the country, and Thursday state lawmakers sent it to the Governor's desk. It's the fourth anti-abortion bill to land on his desk this year. That includes a trigger law set to make the procedure illegal should SCOTUS overturn Roe V Wade.
HB 4327 bans abortions at fertilization. It would also allow private citizens to sue those who perform one for up to $10,000.
The bill includes language preventing legal challenges to the legislation. It would take immediate effect if signed.
It does include exceptions in life-or-death situations, and those that involve rape or incest that has first been reported to police.
Providers say they will stay open as long as they can. If not to perform the procedure, to answer questions and try to link people with support. Children's advocates also said they hope lawmakers will pass measures to support all children after they're born.
"It's a struggle for some of these families to make ends meet and the more children you have the greater the burden is going to be on those families," said Institute for Child Advocacy's CEO, Joe Dorman.
Oklahoma representatives heatedly debated HB 4327 on the House floor. The bill passed 73-16 and leaves providers effectively unable to provide abortions.
“[This] is a reversal of history happening in front our eyes. Once signed it would make abortions illegal in Oklahoma full stop," explained Pres. & CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, Emily Wales.
There are exceptions for rape or incest only if the crime is first reported to police. Oklahoma State Department of Health numbers show in 2020, more than 3,800 people chose to terminate a pregnancy.
"Easily you're going to see about 2,500 of those will fall into a category where they will qualify for insurance benefits through SoonerCare," said Dorman. "1 in 5 Oklahoman children live in poverty. Oklahoma ranks 33rd in the nation for infant mortality. A black infant in Oklahoma is twice as likely to die in the year following their birth than a white infant," explained Planner Parenthood Great Plains Medical Director, Dr. Iman Asladen.
While lawmakers debated HB 4327, many for the bill used personal stories of how they were able to raise their own families, a privilege many in the state don't have.
With nearly 7,000 children currently in foster care and about 550,000 who qualify for SoonerCare benefits, Dorman said the state needs to be ready to support those families now and in the future.
"It will compound when you look at the additional cost that would go and providing daycare for the families. When you look at the additional cost for ensuring that dental health is provided, as well as the medical care under SoonerCare. Then you throw in counseling services," Dorman explained.
Governor Stitt has said he will sign the bill as soon as it hits his desk.