By SEAN MURPHY Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed three anti-abortion bills into law on Monday, including ones to criminalize the procedure in certain cases and cost providers their medical licenses for performing them.
The Republican-controlled Senate passed measures requiring physicians who perform abortions to be certified in obstetrics and gynecology, adding performing an abortion to the list of unprofessional conduct by doctors, and prohibiting abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
In the case of the fetal-heartbeat bill, any doctor who performs an abortion after detecting a heartbeat would be guilty of homicide.
Embryonic cardiac activity can be detected using vaginal ultrasounds as early as 6 weeks, before many women know they are pregnant. Less-invasive abdominal ultrasounds can detect a heartbeat a few weeks later.
The bills have been criticized by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which has successfully sued to overturn numerous anti-abortion laws in recent years.
“These extreme bills are designed to cut off abortion access for people in Oklahoma — a state that already has more abortion restrictions than almost any other state,” Elisabeth Smith, the center’s chief counsel for state policy, said in a statement. “We are currently considering all our legal options to ensure that these laws do not take effect and abortion remains accessible for Oklahomans.”
Several other anti-abortion bills are still awaiting the governor’s signature, including a “trigger bill” that would immediately outlaw abortion in Oklahoma if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion. At least 10 states have similar laws, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
Stitt, a Republican in his first term, reiterated Monday his campaign promise to sign any anti-abortion measure that the Legislature sends to him.
“We want to be the most pro-life state in the country, and I want to be the most pro-life governor,” Stitt said.
Oklahoma is one of several states where GOP gains are lending more momentum to prohibitions on the procedure.
Stitt also said he signed a bill to make Oklahoma a so-called Second Amendment Sanctuary State. The bill declares any federal, state, county or municipal act, law or order to confiscate or buy back firearms to be unconstitutional.
Stitt on Monday also signed a bill to overhaul the state’s employee human resources system. The bill would eliminate the “classified” and “unclassified” designation of state employees and make it easier for agency leaders to hire, fire and promote employees.