Texas had passed the most extreme abortion law in the country until Oklahoma was able to craft its own. In fact, after Oklahoma became a refuge for women in Texas, the state lawmakers passed three different bans, each growing more extreme.
Speaking to MSNBC's Katy Tur, senior counsel Marc Hearron from the Center for Reproductive Rights explained that the Oklahoma law makes it the most extreme in the United States.
Louisiana and Alabama have pondered a law that would make "life" begin at fertilization, which is long before women know they're pregnant. Oklahoma began with a six-week ban with vigilante justice, like the Texas bill.
"And that wasn't cruel enough and these Oklahoma politicians have made a total ban on abortion to take effect immediately upon the governor's signature. And they've unleashed — people across the country — anyone can sue over if they suspect that someone has gotten an abortion in violation of this new law. This is the cruelest and extreme abortion ban," Hearron explained. "Oklahoma is now poised to become the first state to pass and allow a total ban on abortion to go in effect since Roe."
Republican Rep. Wendi Stearman has claimed since the bill passed that they removed IVF on purpose from the bill because it would be too complicated. The way the bill is written, however, Tur said makes it sound like IVF would be illegal.
"The bill's language, even if it's not in the bill, is it language broad enough to make it a complicated issue if you have embryos in that state, fertilized eggs in that state?" she asked.
"That's exactly right," said Hearron. "So this ban bans abortion from the moment of fertilization. Fertilizing multiple eggs is a part of IVF. The problem is when you combine that definition of abortion beginning from fertilization together with this vigilante scheme, the author of the bill might have their own idea of what this law bans, but anybody can decide, 'Oh, you had an IVF procedure. I think that might be illegal. I'm going to sue and force you now to come into court and defend yourself over that IVF procedure.' And that's just the beginning of the Pandora's Box this law opens."
He also explained that miscarriages could be treated the same way.
"If a patient who has a miscarriage, if their neighbor or if a disapproving family member decides, I think you may have had an abortion, they might try to sue and force you into court to try to prove, no, no, this was a miscarriage, not an abortion," explained Hearron. "This is a nightmare dystopian scenario and it's cruel. And it is going to force Oklahoma patients to not only leave the state to try to seek care, but the purpose of the bill is also to strip away their support systems and make it as difficult as possible for them to seek care that they're going to need."
Another piece of the legislation is birth control like intrauterine devices, which the language also bans.
"'Abortion' means the act of using, prescribing, administering, procuring, or selling of any instrument, medicine, drug or any other substance, device, or means with the purpose to terminate the pregnancy of a woman, with the knowledge that the termination by any of those means will with reasonable likelihood cause the death of an unborn child," the first section defines.
The language then declares life as beginning at fertilization. The word "device" means something like an intrauterine device (IUD) would be a device which would stop a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in the uterus.
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To make matters worse, so many women have IUDs that if those women happen to be traveling through Oklahoma for business or a simple drive across the country, and they have an IUD a vigilante could decide to allege the women had an "abortion" as a result of the IUD. There would be no test to take that could prove a woman was pregnant if she no longer is. But with an IUD the vigilante could argue that it's clear if she was pregnant the fertilized egg was "aborted" by the law's definition.
Effectively the Oklahoma law makes it dangerous for any woman seeking an abortion, but also women trying to get pregnant, or women across the country going into the state if they have the "device" the legislature bans.
See the full discussion below:
Senior counselor explains why the Oklahoma anti-abortion law is now the most extreme law in the US youtu.be