Vice President Kamala Harris is not here for the restrictive abortion laws several states around the country are trying to put in place. And she recently voiced her concern for one of the newest and most restrictive pieces of legislation coming out of Oklahoma, calling it “outrageous.”
On May 19, the vice president had a virtual meeting with abortion providers and other medical professionals from around the country. Those on the front lines in states where access to safe, legal abortion is at risk, including Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas, shared their experiences on the call.
But just before the meeting, Oklahoma took a step towards a complete ban on abortions. In a landslide 73-16 vote, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a bill that would ban abortions in the state from the moment of fertilization. The bill also provides incentives for private citizens to sue anyone who performs or induces an abortion on a pregnant woman. And the bill is likely to become law. The state’s Republican Governor Kevin Stitt has gone on record promising to sign any legislation restricting abortion access that comes across his desk, saying he wants his to be “the most pro-life state in the country.”
VP Harris sees the legislation as extreme and a way for states to subjugate women. “Now, think about that for a second: from the moment of fertilization,” Harris said on her call. “It’s outrageous, and it’s just the latest in a series of extreme laws around the country. Several of the medical professionals joining us today are seeing the impact of these laws that are designed to punish and control women.”
Although Oklahoma’s bill prohibits abortions at any stage of pregnancy, it does provide exceptions for rape, sexual assault, incest or medical emergencies. The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood have both promised to challenge the ban if it goes into effect.
The Biden administration has said that if the Supreme Court rules to overturn Roe V. Wade, it could be the first of many rights the Court tries to roll back. “American people need to know that other fundamental rights, including the right to contraception and marriage equality, are at risk,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.