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Oklahoma governor signs Texas-style ban on most abortions

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klahoma’s Governor outlawed almost all abortions in the state in a Texas-like ban on Tuesday, saying he wants the US state to be “the most pro-life in the country”.

Kevin Stitt signed a bill that bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy in the southern state, following a leak that suggests the US Supreme Court is preparing to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling which guarantees the national right to abortion.

The controverisal state law, passed by the Republican-led legislature, relies on private citizens to sue providers or anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion after six weeks to be enforced.

It is modelled after a Texas law that has withstood legal challenges since it took effect in September.

The ban, one of several anti-abortion bills Oklahoma lawmakers approved this session in hopes that at least one will withstand legal challenges, takes immediate effect with the Republican governor’s signature.

Earlier in the day, Oklahoma’s Supreme Court declined to block its enforcement pending the outcome of litigation challenging it.

“I want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country because I represent all four million Oklahomans who overwhelmingly want to protect the unborn,” Mr Stitt said on Twitter.

It comes after a leaked draft ruling suggested the US Supreme Court, the highest court in America, is getting ready to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that enshrined the right to abortion in the constitution.

The draft ruling, authored by ultra-conservative Justice Samuel Alito, potentially overrules the landmark case, calling the precedent “egregiously wrong”.

If the ruling was overturned, individual US states will be able to set their own abortion laws, and it is likely there will be new abortion restrictons set in nearly half of all states. The news has sparked protests across the US.

“This moment is dark,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“Last night, our fears about the fate of abortion rights at the US Supreme Court were confirmed and today, Oklahomans are faced with an immediate loss of abortion access.”

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has said “that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental”.

Republican lawmakers across the US have been flooding statehouses with measures to curtail access in anticipation of the decision in the Mississippi case, due by the end of June.

Oklahoma‘s six-week ban, which outlaws abortion before many women know they are pregnant, allows exceptions for later-term abortions in medical emergency cases.

On April 28, the state Senate approved a separate near-total ban on abortion that makes exceptions only in cases of medical emergency, rape or incest, and also relies on civil lawsuits for enforcement.

The bill would immediately go into effect if Mr Stitt signs it after the House considers amendments made to its text.

Earlier in April, Mr Stitt enacted yet another ban on nearly all abortions that threatens prison time for abortion providers. It is due to take effect in August.

Oklahoma‘s new law will expand a swath of US southern states with little to no abortion access.

Women in Texas have been traveling to Oklahoma to end pregnancies since Texas’ six-week ban took effect and will now have to go elsewhere if they want abortions past that gestational limit.

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