On May 19, Oklahoma state legislature turned back the clock on progress and passed a bill, SB 1552, that makes it a felony to perform an abortion—except when the mother’s life is at risk—with a penalty of up to 3 years in prison. This bill, the strictest in the country, essentially overturns Roe v. Wade and passed 33-12 with no discussion or debate. That there was no debate on such a crucial issue affecting half the population is a telling sign of just how completely unrepresentative our “representative democracy” is in reality.
The bill must now receive final approval by anti-abortion Republican Gov. Mary Fallin and will automatically become law unless the governor vetoes the legislation within a 5-day period.
Steve Vladeck, law professor at the American University Washington College of Law, commented saying, “This bill is as direct an assault on Roe v. Wade—and the Supreme Court’s subsequent jurisprudence—as anything we’ve seen before. If this law is upheld, then (the Roe decision) is meaningless.”
Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm, sponsor of the legislation, stated that he hopes his bill could lead to overturning Roe v. Wade. “Since I believe life begins at conception, it should be protected, and I believe it’s a core function of state government to defend that life from the beginning of conception,” said Dahm.
This latest attack comes on the heels of the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers or TRAP law being considered by the Supreme Court, which puts severe restrictions on Texas abortion clinics’ ability to operate. Proponents use the false claim of concern for women’s health while the real agenda, like other such laws around the country, is to block abortion access by making it essentially untenable to operate clinics or access services.
The past several years have seen a constant chipping away, state-by-state, of women’s right to control our bodies. Over 200 abortion restrictions have been enacted by states over the past 5 years alone. In Oklahoma, eight other anti-abortion bills were passed in recent years, but many never took effect as they were challenged as unconstitutional. These attacks on abortion rights are part of a general rightwing trend in large parts of the U.S. political establishment where social services and workers’ rights are increasingly devalued.
Pro-lifers are, in reality, only pro-life until birth. They have no concern for the quality of life of the child or the woman after birth. The right wing’s deep concern for life is a sham and at its core is based on reactionary views of women’s ability to control their lives and assert independence. It has nothing to do with valuing life in any way as the same politicians cut funding for food stamps, public education and housing in poor communities and support the U.S. bombing of women and children around the world.
Women and all progressive-minded people must stand together and fight against these reactionary laws and views on all fronts. We cannot allow a handful of sexist, rightwing politicians to turn back the clock on the gains that our mothers and grandmothers fought so hard for. We won’t go back!