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Senate Sends 3 Abortion Bills To Stitt's Desk

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The Oklahoma Senate sent several new abortion restrictions to the governor on Tuesday.

House Bill 2441 bans the procedure after a heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks. House Bill 1102 suspends the license of doctors who provide abortion. House Bill 1904 limits who may perform the procedure to board-certified OB/GYNs.

All three bills passed with overwhelming Republican support. Sen. J.J. Dossett (D-Owasso) voted for each one. Sens. Warren Hamilton (R-McCurtain) and Jake Merrick (R-Yukon) voted against the bills. They said the legislation didn't go far enough in banning abortion.

Sen. Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville) is sponsoring several anti-abortion bills this session, including two of the three passed Tuesday. 

"I will work tirelessly to limit abortion in this state until the day comes that, that wrongly decided decision is overturned and the authority for making these decisions about preserving life is returned to the states, where it belongs," Daniels said, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.

ACLU of Oklahoma Executive Director and Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice Co-Chair Tamya Cox-Touré said the legislature’s push to ban abortion will only ban safe, legal abortion in the state.

"And what typically happens in these situations is we’re not banning abortion, we’re pitting people of means with poor folk because people who can afford it will simply go somewhere else," Cox-Touré said.

Republican lawmakers pushing for abortion bans have consistently shown a misunderstanding of or misrepresented the procedure. Sen. Shane Jett (R-Shawnee) claimed there are more than 5,000 abortions a year in the state. According to state statistics, 2010 is the last time there were more than 5,000 abortions. Jett also pushed the idea abortion is an industry where there's money to be made.

"I understand that babies are killed for cash here in Oklahoma, but not by OB/GYNs, is that correct?" Jett asked Sen. Jessica Garvin (R-Duncan) during questions on HB1904, which she is Senate author of.

"Thank you for that question. That is my understanding," Garvin said.

Trust Women is an organization that opens clinics in underserved communities, including in Oklahoma. Founder and CEO Julie Burkhart said she has heard comments similar to Jett’s, and they are not true.

"This is a field in which we work very hard to make ends meet so that we can provide care and compassion and a nonjudgmental environment to people who are just needing some help," Burkhart said.

None of the bills sent to Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday makes exceptions for rape or incest. Stitt has said he will sign any abortion restrictions sent to his desk. Cox-Touré said the legislation will be challenged if it becomes law.

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