Okla. Votes to Make Performing Abortion a Felony

Critics say the law is 'insane,' a 'new low,' and unconstitutional
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2016 12:50 PM CDT
Okla. Votes to Make Performing Abortion a Felony
Sen. Nathan Dahm authored a new bill, passed Thursday by the Oklahoma Senate, that would make it a felony to perform an abortion.   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The Oklahoma Senate voted Thursday to make it a felony punishable by up to three years in prison to perform an abortion, the AP reports. The Center for Reproductive Rights says the bill, which needs to be approved by Gov. Mary Fallin, is a first in the US and a "new low" for Oklahoma. It passed 33-12 without debate. Sen. Nathan Dahm, who authored the bill, says the purpose of the new law is "to protect life," Reuters reports. "Most people know I am for defending rights," the Oklahoman quotes Dahm as saying. "Those rights begin at conception." In addition to making a felon out of anyone who performs an abortion, the bill would also take medical licenses away from doctors who do so. It makes an exception only when an abortion is necessary to save the mother's life.

Sen. Ervin Yen, a doctor and one of a handful of Republican legislators to vote against the bill, calls it "insane." The Center for Reproductive Rights says the bill is unconstitutional. And a Democratic senator who voted against it worries it will lead to expensive court cases for a state already low on funds. It wouldn't be the first time Fallin, whose office hasn't commented on the bill, has passed such a law: According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, she has signed 18 new abortion laws, all of which lost the ensuing legal battles. Dahm says he not only believes the new bill will win any legal challenge but that it could eventually lead to overturning Roe v. Wade. (More abortion stories.)

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