Access to abortion under renewed threat in Oklahoma and Missouri


As abortion rights advocates could score several victories across US states in the coming days, they are sounding the alarm over a bill from Oklahoma that would ban nearly all abortions that might be enacted into law. . Here are some of the moves this week in state legislatures and by heads of state that you may have missed.

Oklahoma lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill that would make abortion illegal in the state except to save the pregnant woman’s life in a medical emergency.

The bill is headed for Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who has pledged to sign every piece of abortion-restricting legislation that comes to his desk.

Senate Bill 612 would make abortion or attempted abortion a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $100,000 or a maximum of 10 years in state prison, or both. The pregnant person who requested the abortion would not be criminally charged or convicted for seeking or obtaining the procedure.

This week, Republicans in Oklahoma also took a step closer to passing the “Oklahoma Heartbeat Act”, inspired by a law in Texas, which bans abortions around six weeks of pregnancy and allows private citizens to bring civil action against abortion providers to enforce the law. This is just one of two Texas-mimicking bills being considered by the Sooner State.

Abortion opponents cheered the bill’s passage, while abortion rights advocates warned the measure would create a crisis in the region as out-of-state patients, including a huge increase in the number of Texans seeking abortions, would travel to Oklahoma.

On Friday, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland vetoed a bill that would expand abortion access in the state.

His veto sends the bill back to the legislature to consider its objections. Democrats, who control both the House of Delegates and the state Senate, will need the support of three-fifths of both houses to override Hogan’s veto.

Hogan opposed the bill, saying in a letter, “As Governor, I have confirmed my commitment not to take any action that would affect Maryland law with respect to reproductive rights. With this action, I reaffirm this commitment.

House Bill 937, titled the Abortion Care Access Act, would allow more medical professionals to perform an abortion procedure, rather than just a licensed doctor, and would put in place a state program to further train and diversify abortion providers.

The legislation would also require most health insurers and Maryland’s Medical Assistance Program to cover abortion care services.

The Missouri House, where Republicans have a more than 2-1 majority, passed a sweeping bill on Wednesday that would ban the mailing of abortion drugs, fund family planning clinics in the state and allow members family to sue for wrongful death in the rare case of live birth during or after an attempted abortion when the baby is injured or subsequently dies as a result of the abortion.

A provision of the legislation would also criminalize “trafficking in abortive drugs”, stating that “a person or entity commits the offense of trafficking in abortive drugs if that person or entity imports, exports, distributes, delivers, manufactures, produces, knowingly prescribes, administers or dispenses” – or attempts to do so – “any medication, drug or other substance to be used for the purpose of inducing an abortion…on another person in violation of any federal or state law”.

House Bill 2012 would enact a live-born abortion survivor protection law, under which a health care provider would be required to provide the same level of life-saving care following an attempted abortion as ‘a provider would offer a baby otherwise born at the same gestational age. Other states, including Kentucky and Ohio, have passed similar legislation.

According to the bill, a person who commits sexual assault or domestic violence would not be allowed to bring such lawsuits or obtain damages, nor would the household or their family members.

The legislative package passed a 91-37 vote without discussion on Wednesday and is now heading to the state Senate.

A Missouri Senate committee also held a hearing Wednesday on eight abortion-related proposals, including a bill that would establish the Missouri abortion abolition law.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky on Friday vetoed a sweeping bill that would have banned most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, restricted access to medical abortion and made it harder for a minor to get an abortion in the state. The legislation does not provide exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

Beshear said in a veto letter signed Friday that House Bill 3 was “probably unconstitutional.”

The bill, he said, “requires physicians performing non-surgical procedures to maintain hospital admitting privileges in geographic proximity to where the procedure is performed. The Supreme Court has ruled these requirements unconstitutional because they prevent women, including child victims of rape or incest, from obtaining proceedings in certain areas of the state.

The legislation imposes a number of restrictions on the drugs used in a medical abortion, such as mifepristone. Under the bill, the drug could not be given to a patient without obtaining their “informed consent” at least 24 hours in advance, which would include signing a “office-created” document.

It would also change the law that deals with minors obtaining abortions so that only an attending physician, not an agent, can obtain written consent, and it would require the consenting parent or legal guardian “to have made a reasonable attempt to notify ” any other parent with joint or physical custody at least 48 hours before giving consent.

Despite the governor’s veto, the state legislature can vote to override the veto next week. Republicans hold massive majorities in both houses.

Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the nearly century-old abortion ban, which is unenforceable due to Roe v. Wade.

The lawsuit asks the state Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of abortion.

“We must take this current attack on women’s rights seriously and use all the tools at our disposal to fight back. It’s not just a theoretical risk. This is a real and present danger. And that’s why I filed this lawsuit,” Whitmer told “The Source with Kasie Hunt” on CNN+.

According to an official in Whitmer’s office, if Roe v. Wade is overturned and Michigan’s abortion law of 1931 goes into effect, the state of Wolverine would have one of the most extreme abortion laws in the nation.

In a notable victory for abortion rights advocates, the unicameral Nebraska Legislature failed to introduce a bill on Wednesday titled the Nebraska Human Life Protection Act, which sought to ban abortions statewide if the Court Supreme Court of the United States overthrew Roe v. Wade.

Republican Senator Joni Albrecht’s motion to end debate on the bill she introduced failed by a vote of 31 to 15, short of the two votes needed. Lawmakers had debated the bill for about eight hours.

The bill, a so-called trigger abortion bill, would have gone into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade or whether Congress should enact legislation giving states the power to regulate abortion or whether the Constitution should be amended. It would have banned abortions without exception for rape and incest and created criminal penalties for doctors who violate the law.

“I’m proud of everyone who came together to say this ban, and the way the bill was written was wrong,” Democratic Senator Megan Hunt said after the vote.

As surrounding red states seek to restrict abortion, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat, on Monday signed a bill codifying abortion rights in the state.

The Reproductive Health Equity Act states that “everyone has the fundamental right to make decisions about their reproductive health care, including the fundamental right to use or refuse contraception; a pregnant person has the fundamental right to continue a pregnancy and to give birth or have an abortion and to make decisions on how to exercise this right; and a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus has no independent or derivative rights under state law.

The law also prevents local entities from enacting their own abortion restrictions.

According to Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood clinics in Colorado saw an increase of more than 1,000% in the number of abortion patients in Texas after that state’s six-week ban went into effect in September 2021 until the end of the year, compared to previous years.