April 21, 2011
Oklahoma Outlaws Abortions Past 20 Weeks
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said on Wednesday that the state has signed into law a prohibition on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, making it the fourth state to ban such late term abortions.
She also signed a law that prevents health insurers from covering elective abortions.
Fallin, a Republican servicing her first term, said both laws are important measures that safeguard life.
"Together, these two pieces of legislation will expand protections for unborn children and ensure that Oklahomans are not forced to unknowingly or unwillingly help to pay for procedures that run contrary to their values," she said.
Barbara Santee, former executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice America's Oklahoma office, said the laws were "a frontal assault" on the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
"This is just chipping away at a woman's right to choose," she said in a statement.
The law prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks is based on the belief that a fetus can feel pain at that point. Nebraska passed the same law last year, and Idaho and Kansas did so this year.
The Oklahoma law allows abortions when the mother's life is at risk or she faces serious risk of substantial physical harm.
Violations of the law are a felony for abortion providers, but women who undergo the prohibited abortions would not be penalized.