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Oklahoma lawmakers advance bills creating exceptions to state's strict abortion laws

Kateleigh Mills

Oklahoma lawmakers are considering exceptions to the state’s abortion laws, which are widely supported nationwide, but not necessarily commonplace.

A Senate Committee on health advanced two bills late last week that clarify some exemptions in the state’s abortion ban.

Senate Bill 834 would create rape and incest exceptions, but would require a police report to be filed. Critics note that vulnerable people, such as children who are incest victims, don’t have the support they need to file police reports. It advanced on a 9 to 2 vote, with Democratic Senators Carri Hicks and George Young voting against the bill.

"We are requiring individuals — victims of rape and incest — to report to law enforcement before they access medical treatment," said Hicks told KOCO-TV. "For me, it’s an easy 'no' until we are actually addressing that violent crime and bringing those numbers of assault and rape down. This is not a win."

Senate Bill 368 would add some clarity to medical emergencies. The original laws provide few specific examples, and the ambiguity created concerns that health providers could delay life-saving abortions for fear of going to prison. The bill advanced unanimously.

In the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade last year, 22 states implemented abortion bans. Of those, there were 15 that included no exceptions for rape and incest, including Oklahoma.

The bills now head to the Senate floor.

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Catherine Sweeney was StateImpact Oklahoma's health reporter from 2020 to 2023.
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