The Oklahoma parliament adopted a law on Thursday, May 19, prohibiting all abortions upon fertilization, making this conservative bastion in the southern United States the state with the most restrictive regulations in terms of voluntary termination of pregnancy. The vote comes as the right to abortion in the United States is under threat from the Supreme Court, which, according to a document revealed by Politico, seems ready to reverse the course, 50 years after its historic decision to protect abortion.
To enter into force, the text must now be signed by Governor Kevin Stitt. This elected Republican had already indicated that he would put his signature on any law imposing more restrictions on abortion. Inspired by a law passed by Texas in September, this text of Oklahoma law opens the door, with this text, to lawsuits launched by ordinary citizens against people suspected of having had an abortion. The definition of abortion, according to the text, however, does not include “the use, prescription, supply, or sale of morning-after pills, or any type of contraception or emergency contraception”.
US Vice President Kamala Harris later denounced the Oklahoma legislature’s decision as “the latest in a series of blatant attacks on women by elected officials”. The number two executive called on Americans to elect leaders who would defend the right to abortion “at the local, state, and federal level”. “This has never been more urgent,” she tweeted.
The organization Planned Parenthood, which defends the right to abortion, announced on its side that it was going to sue Oklahoma. “This ban must be stopped – along with all the other bans this state has passed in the past month,” Planned Parenthood continued on Twitter.
On May 3, Governor Kevin Stitt announced that he had signed a law that already prohibited abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. “I want Oklahoma to become the most ‘pro-life’ state in the country,” he said, using the expression consecrated by Americans opposed to abortion. Oklahoma had been welcoming thousands of Texan women seeking abortions for several months, after the passage in September of a similar text in this neighboring state.
Even if it is supported by a large majority of the population (approximately 70% according to recent polls), the right to abortion has been a very divisive social issue since the historic “Roe v. Wade” of January 1973, which protects the right of American women to terminate their pregnancies. In the event of a Supreme Court decision reversing this right, 26 conservative states, mostly in the center and south of the country such as Wyoming, Tennessee, and South Carolina, are ready to ban abortion altogether.