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Oklahoma becomes first state to ban nearly all abortions

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Oklahoma has become the first state in the country to ban nearly all abortions.

The state’s governor, Kevin Stitt, signed a bill Wednesday outlawing abortions after conception — making it the strictest anti-abortion law in the US to date.

The law makes exceptions in cases of rape and incest or if the mother’s life is at risk.

Stitt has previously described himself as the “most pro-life governor” and pledged to support every piece of anti-abortion legislation in Oklahoma.

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“I promised Oklahomans that as governor I would sign every piece of pro-life legislation that came across my desk and I am proud to keep that promise today,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

The law prohibits the abortion of “an embryo in any stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.”

It doesn’t block access to emergency contraceptive measures like the morning-after pill, Plan B or any other type of contraception.

Protesters hold pro-choice signs at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City.
AP/Sue Ogrocki

While the legislation doesn’t criminalize abortions, it does open the door for private citizens to sue anyone who aids in or performs an abortion — or has the intention to — for up to $10,000.

Vice President Kamala Harris slammed the bill when it was passed by Oklahoma lawmakers last week.

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“Just half an hour ago in Oklahoma, the state legislature passed one of the most extreme abortion bans in the country — a ban that would outlaw abortion from the moment of fertilization,” Harris said.

Vice President Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris strongly disagrees with Oklahoma’s new law.
AP/Alex Brandon

“Now think about that for a second, from the moment of fertilization. It’s outrageous and it’s just the latest in a series of extreme laws around the country.”

Oklahoma is one of several Republican-controlled states that are starting to push out stricter and stricter anti-abortion legislation in the wake of the leaked Supreme Court ruling overthrowing Roe v. Wade.

The ruling would rescind the federal law protecting abortion rights and allow states to set their own policies and laws.

Roughly two-thirds to four-fifths of Americans favor legal access to abortion in at least some cases.

However, opinions vary region to region, meaning an overturn of Roe v. Wade would lead to a patchwork of laws that would require women in some cases to cross state lines to access abortions — and even face criminal charges in extreme instances.

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