Oklahoma Heartbeat Act on its way to Governor Stitt for his signature

By Dave Andrusko

By overwhelming margins, the Oklahoma legislature has given final approval to the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act which is now on its way to the desk of Gov. Kevin Stitt.

The bill, which cleared the Oklahoma Senate in March, was approved in the House on Thursday in a 68-12 vote.

“Because the measure approved Thursday has an ‘emergency’ provision, it takes effect immediately after the governor signs it, and abortion providers say will immediately end most abortions in Oklahoma,” the Associated Press’s Sean Murphy reported.

Tony Lauinger, Vice President of National Right to Life and State Chairman, Oklahomans For Life, told Murphy he’s optimistic the measure will be deemed constitutional.

“It’s identical to the bill that was enacted by the Texas Legislature last year, and that bill has passed muster with the United States Supreme Court,” Lauinger said. “We are hopeful that this bill will save the lives of more unborn children here in Oklahoma as well.”

Last month, when the bill passed the Senate, Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat told the committee, “This is an opportunity to save more Oklahomans. I hope that we see a good decision out of the U.S. Supreme Court, but we can’t wait around for that,” according to Fox 23 News reports. “We need to save unborn life.”

SB 1503 mirrors the Texas Heartbeat Act, which became law last year. The Texas law has been challenged by the abortion industry and reviewed by various courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to block the law. As a result, it continues to be in effect and to save lives. The law is enforced through civil remedies – lawsuits – rather than criminal penalties.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission reports that abortions in Texas dropped 60% in the first month after their law went into effect. Enactment of SB 1503 is necessary to save lives now in our state as well as to ensure that Oklahoma not be an abortion-destination state for women from Texas.

Under SB 1503, abortions may not be performed after the unborn child’s heartbeat is detectable, generally around the sixth week of pregnancy. Embryologists have long known that the heart begins to beat in the developing child between 18 and 21 days after fertilization.