Oklahoma’s legislature on Thursday approved the nation’s strictest abortion law, voting to ban the procedure from the moment of conception except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is endangered.
The measure will take effect immediately after Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signs it into law.
The bill is modeled after Texas’ abortion ban, which relies on private citizens to enforce it. The measure allows citizens to sue anyone who “aids or abets” a woman seeking an abortion. The woman, however, cannot be sued.
Republican Rep. Wendi Stearman spearheaded the legislation. “Is our goal to defend the right to life or isn't it?" Stearman asked her colleagues before the bill passed on a 73-16 vote.
Oklahoma lawmakers have already passed several pro-life measures this year, including a six-week ban earlier this month.
Two of Oklahoma’s four abortion clinics were forced to shut their doors after the six-week ban, and the remaining two say they will no longer provide abortions after Thursday’s bill is signed by Gov. Stitt.
“At this point, we are preparing for the most restrictive environment politicians can create: a complete ban on abortion with likely no exceptions," Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, told AP. “It’s the worst-case scenario for abortion care in the state of Oklahoma."
The measure is the latest in an intensifying battle over abortion. It also comes on the heels of a leaked draft decision from the Supreme Court that suggested the justices may soon overturn Roe v. Wade.
A decision to overturn Roe would send the abortion issue back to the states, where lawmakers will decide what restrictions if any, they will place on the procedure.