A new Oklahoma abortion ban is a futuristic nightmare of government control of women’s bodies, made real. This law, which comes in the wake of the news that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, is one of the most restrictive in the country.
To know how sinister and scary this Oklahoma law really is, consider this: The law bans abortions at the point of “fertilisation,” which it defines as “the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum.” Previously, Oklahoma had banned abortions at six weeks – a point when most women do not know they’re pregnant. Now the state has banned abortion at the point when by definition the pregnant person cannot know they are pregnant. The only exceptions to the law are in cases of rape or incest, or to save the life of the pregnant woman – exceptions that are increasingly rare in abortion legislation. In all other ways, this is a sweeping forced birth law.
“Oklahoma is now the only state in the United States to successfully outlaw abortion while Roe v. Wade still stands,” the Center for Reproductive Rights wrote in a press release. “A coalition of Oklahoma abortion providers and a reproductive justice organization will imminently file a challenge to the ban and seek to block it in court.”
Republican lawmakers, including Governor Kevin Stitt, have attempted to position the law as a lifesaving effort. “From the moment life begins at conception is when we have a responsibility as human beings to do everything we can to protect that baby’s life and the life of the mother,” Stitt said following the signing. This is disingenuous considering Oklahoma ranks 40th in the nation for maternal deaths.
The Turnaway Study, a landmark study that compared the five-year outcomes of women who were denied abortion with the five-year outcomes of women who received abortion, found that “women who were denied abortions reported more chronic pain and worse overall health. Two women who were turned away and gave birth died of pregnancy-related causes.” Under the Oklahoma law, the state decides whether women should have to risk their lives and health by remaining pregnant.
Like the Texas law that banned abortions earlier this year, the Oklahoma abortion ban relies on regular people to bring civil lawsuits against people who perform abortions and any person who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.” That means someone who gave money for an abortion procedure, or gave a ride, or worked in an office that provided abortions. These suits, like those in Texas, are for damages of $10,000.
The law explains that this is a ban on abortion but not on contraception. “It does not include the use, prescription, administration, procuring, or selling of Plan B, morning-after pills, or any other type of contraception or emergency contraception,” the text states. That clarification is terrifying – clearly, banning birth control could be next.
Vice President Kamala Harris said as much in a press call with GLAMOUR US earlier this month. “Here is what it means on a practical level in terms of women, and men, and all genders: Privacy rights are in jeopardy,” she said, referring to the news that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. “When you look at the privacy rights that are in jeopardy, it could very well include the right to obtain contraception. It could very well include the right to marry someone of the same sex.”
Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.
This article was originally published on Glamour.com.