The Oklahoma Legislature adjourned on 27 May, nearly four weeks after the leak that the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) was going to overturn Roe v. Wade. While it is true that thousands of lives might be saved in the immediate aftermath of this legislative session, Governor Kevin Stitt and legislative leaders still failed to provide the constitutionally-required equal protection of the law to preborn humans in Oklahoma, and their compromised laws leave thousands of babies unprotected and subject to murder by abortion in coming years. In this update we will cover:
- Current Status of Abortion Law in Oklahoma
- Recap of SCOTUS
- How Pro-Life Politicians Failed Us
- The Problem before Us
- What Must be Done
Current Status of Abortion Law in Oklahoma
As of the writing of this update, only two statutes have gone into effect, and unfortunately they contradict one another, so ironically, a court may end up deciding that the most liberal interpretation of each is in effect.
Senate Bill 1503, the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act, became effective on 3 May. Citizens have to prove that an abortionist did find a heartbeat in his victim but ignored it. The penalty is a minimum fine of $10,000, plus damages, court costs, and attorney’s fees. There are two massive loopholes: one for abortions “performed at the behest of federal agencies, contractors, or employees,” and all women receive blanket immunity for committing murder by abortion against their own babies. No agency of the State can enforce the act.
House Bill 4327 became effective on 25 May. Its language and requirements are similar to SB 1503. It does move the line of protection from heartbeat to conception, but it opens an additional loophole by protecting murder by abortion when the victim’s father is an accused rapist. The Legislature likely intended this bill to supersede SB 1503, but massive confusion may soon be the result because the act contains this caveat: “This act shall not affect any provision of state law that regulates or prohibits abortion including, but not limited to, any provision that restricts or regulates an abortion by a particular method or during a particular stage of pregnancy.” In other words, this law must illogically coexist with SB 1503.
In summary, doctors who administer abortions will be subject to civil liability only, but under what circumstances and to what extent is left muddled by leadership’s unprincipled approach. Two additional laws may soon go into effect, but once again with the same kind of loopholes and inconsistencies in place.
Senate Bill 918, a “trigger bill” from 2021, becomes effective upon SCOTUS officially overturning Roe. It criminalizes only those who administer abortions, exempts women who murder their own babies, and the punishment is imprisonment for two to five years.
The effective date of Senate Bill 612 is currently set for 23 August. It criminalizes only those who administer abortions, it also exempts women who murder their own babies, and the punishment is not to exceed $100,000 and/or imprisonment not to exceed ten years.
All four of these laws fail to provide equal protection and are therefore unconstitutional as explained below. The immediate effect of these laws has been a great disturbance of the abortion industry, to the point that operations in Oklahoma are on hold while their lawyers figure out what they can get away with. But, as with a stone thrown into a pond, the initial waves will eventually dissipate, and the industry will find stasis and ways to continue its practice, thanks to the massive loopholes granted by our politicians.
Recap of SCOTUS
What SCOTUS will likely say is good. They intend to overturn Roe and Casey. However, what the leaked opinion does not say has already led to deadly, unprincipled, and unconstitutional compromises. SCOTUS did not point out that all elective abortion that is not medical triage is unconstitutional per the Fourteenth Amendment, which requires innocent lives to be given equal protection of the laws within a State. They could have and should have explained that the Mississippi Gestational Age Act was unconstitutional because it does not provide equal protection of the law to preborn humans who have not attained the age of fifteen weeks. They could have and should have directed all States to criminalize not just some abortions, but all abortions.
Consider rape, for example. The penalties a rapist might face vary from State to State, but within each State, rape is always a crime for anyone who commits the act, and regardless of the age of the victim. The State law gives equal protection against rape. In contrast, abortion laws which protect only humans of a certain age, or which grant blanket immunity to mothers and accomplices, are discriminatory and do not provide equal protection. In order for an abortion law to provide equal protection, and thus be constitutional, it must criminalize all elective abortion, regardless of the victim’s age, and it must apply to anyone involved in that criminal act.
How Pro-Life Politicians Failed Us
Governor Stitt and legislative leaders in Oklahoma have already compromised so much that thousands will die, while the pro-life voters will be told that abortion has ended in the state. Providing cover for these compromisers, one major pro-life lobbying organization has already issued a press release saying, “The Republican Leadership in the House and Senate are inspiring…” and “No other state has a governor as pro-life as Governor Kevin Stitt…”
If only this were true, but we must judge sitting politicians first and foremost by their actions. At the beginning of 2022, the strategy of legislative leadership appears to have been to send several limited regulations to the courts as a bowl of mixed salad and let the courts decide what to pick out and throw away and what the Legislature could keep. Governor Stitt’s strategy was to sign everything indiscriminately without regard for principle. As a result, we have been left with partial bans and wrist-slap regulations that are contradictory, unjust, and unconstitutional, and which still sanction thousands of acts of murder by abortion. Rather than exercising leadership or acting on principle, officials have played politics with dead babies.
The Problem before Us
The average voter already believes that abortion has been abolished and the battle is over, even though this is dramatically and demonstrably false. Self-induced chemical abortions are specifically protected by all recent pro-life laws, and these types of murders are not statistical exceptions. In fact, they will quickly become the rule, the new normal. As of 2020 the Guttmacher Institute reports that over half of all abortions were already being administered chemically. That means the abortion industry is prepared and ready to launch a program of full-scale, do-it-yourself, mail-order abortions. With no overhead for offices and staff, the advent of telehealth, and no in-person office visits, the abortion industry will ramp up and scale up operations. The quantity of abortions will increase even while the number of surgical abortions decreases. Women who are immune from prosecution can easily and freely buy pills and share abortion advice online.
If we allow Governor Stitt and Republican leaders to get away with a half-finished job now, then the new normal will become entrenched. At-home abortions will replace surgery-center abortions, while voters naively bask in false victory and celebrate the politicians who drove the bloodshed out of sight and out of mind.
What Must be Done
This is why the primary elections on 28 June are so important. Incumbent pro-life Republicans are crying, “Peace, peace!” when there is no peace (Jer. 6:14, 8:11). They claimed to have built a defensive wall around the preborn with recent legislation, but it is actually a weak wall of protection (Ezek. 13.10).
If we want to provide equal protection for the preborn and close legal loopholes, the most important seat of power to change is that of governor. The governor is the de-facto head of the Republican Party in the State. He sets the course and direction of public policy. The current governor could have abolished abortion at any time during the last three and a half years, and done so quite easily in the last month since the SCOTUS leak, but all we have seen is lack of leadership and political pandering.
Mark Sherwood for Oklahoma Governor has vowed to close loopholes and provide equal protection for our preborn neighbors within thirty days of taking office. He will also take a principled approach to protecting businesses, medical rights, and parental rights. Learn more at Sherwood2022.com.