© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A doctor does an ultrasound on a patient from Austin, Texas, before her surgical abortion at Trust Women clinic in Oklahoma City, U.S., December 6, 2021. Picture taken December 6, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo
By Gabriella Borter
(Reuters) -Oklahoma lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill that would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and rely on private civil actions for enforcement, modeled after a Texas law that has made abortion nearly inaccessible in that state since September.
The House of Representatives voted 68-12 without debate to ban abortion before many women realize they are pregnant. Approved by the Senate previously, the bill awaits Republican Governor Kevin Stitt’s signature, and he is expected to sign it.
In recent months, Republican-led states have been passing ever-stricter abortion bans in expectation that a forthcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision will alter or reverse the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
An emergency clause in the Oklahoma bill would have it take effect immediately with the governor’s approval. It makes exceptions only in medical emergency cases.
Oklahoma’s legislature had been considering several anti-abortion bills this session, and earlier this month passed a ban on nearly all abortions that threatens prison time for abortion providers.
The measure that passed on Thursday will expand a swath of U.S. southern states with little to no abortion access.
Women in Texas have been traveling to Oklahoma to end pregnancies since Texas’ six-week ban took effect in September, and they may now have to travel further if they want to end a pregnancy past that gestational limit.
The U.S. Supreme Court is due to rule by the end of June on a case involving a Republican-backed Mississippi abortion law. During oral arguments in the case, conservative justices signaled a willingness to dramatically curtail abortion rights in the United States.