Oklahoma City – In a flurry of activity today, Governor Stitt signed 3 bills targeted at ending abortion once and for all in the Sooner State, as well as the much-lauded Second Amendment Sanctuary Act, into law today, making this one of the most productive days of the legislative session for the state’s Chief Executive. All three abortion bills go into effect November 1st, while the Second Amendment bill goes into effect immediately.
Abortion Criminalized in Oklahoma
The three bills targeting abortion were led by Oklahoma’s version of the Heartbeat Act that has already passed in several other states. The bill, HB 2441, now requires anyone performing an abortion to conduct ultrasounds to detect a fetal heartbeat. If such heartbeat is detected, performing an abortion is now defined as a homicide in Oklahoma.
The only exception allowed in the bill is if, “the mother has a condition that so complicates her medical condition that it necessitates the abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.” However, the measure goes onto to clarify that, “No such condition may be determined to exist if it is based on a claim or diagnosis that the woman will engage in conduct which she intends to result in her death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”
While this bill is unlikely to appease the ultra-abolitionists, the reality is that this bill practically eliminates all abortions performed in the State of Oklahoma. A fetal heartbeat is detectable at 5-6 weeks gestation, usually before a woman knows she is pregnant. As for the “life of the mother” exception, most “high-risk” pregnancies aren’t diagnosed until second trimester at the soonest, long after the heartbeat is detected. As such, the Heartbeat Act as written criminalizes every abortion performed in Oklahoma except for those performed using RU-486 (the “morning after” pill). Most importantly, the bill only criminalizes those performing the abortion, not the mother.
Medical Licensing Bill Passed
In addition to the Heartbeat Act, HB 1102, known as the Medical Licensing Bill, was also signed into law. This bill was passed by the legislature in 2016 under strong support from the pro-life community in Oklahoma, led by Pastor Paul Blair of Fairview Baptist – Edmond. At the time, Governor Fallin had promised Pastor Blair and others that she would sign the bill. Fully expecting a fight, Pastor Blair had even lined up support from the Liberty Counsel who agreed to help defend the bill in court once the ACLU sued. However, at the last second Governor Fallin went back on her word and vetoed the legislation.
HB 1102 formally defines performing an abortion as “unprofessional conduct”, which justifies the Oklahoma State Board of Health to suspend the medical license of any medical practitioner who performs an abortion for “not less than 1 year.” The bill does include a similar “life of the mother” exception as HB 2441, to include the provision that, “an abortion may not be performed based solely on the mental or emotional health of the mother, notwithstanding a claim or diagnosis that the woman may engage in conduct which she intends to result in her death.”
The last bill targeting abortion is HB 1904, which requires any physician performing an abortion to be board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. The significance of this bill is that if immediately puts one of the metro-area’s most prolific and long-standing abortion providers out of business. Dr. Larry Burns’ office in Norman has been open and performing abortion since 1975. Effective November 1st, he will be out of business.
Oklahoma now a Second Amendment Sanctuary State
The last of the bills signed today was a measure that officially makes Oklahoma a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.” The bill, back by OK2A, “preempts the entire field of legislation by any agency of this state, or any political subdivision in this state to infringe upon the rights of a citizen of the State of Oklahoma the unalienable right to keep and bear arms.” It further clarifies that, “any federal, state, county or municipal act, law, executive order, administrative order, court order, rule, policy or regulation ordering the buy-back, confiscation or surrender of firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition from law-abiding citizens of this state shall be considered an infringement on the rights of citizens.”
Such bill would have gone hand-in-hand with the original language of HB 1236 in giving the Legislature the statutory authority to override any Federal Law or Executive Order which infringed upon the Second Amendment rights of Oklahomans. Since Senator Greg Treat gutted the original language of the bill, essentially forcing the legislature to abdicate it’s responsibility to protect Oklahomans from Federal overreach, that role, should the measure pass the House, will go to a board of unelected bureaucrats.