Friday, May 20, 2016

Oklahoma Legislature Purports To Outlaw Almost All Abortions In Statute Raising Many Questions

The Oklahoma legislature gave final passage yesterday (legislative history) to Senate Bill No. 1552 (full text), purporting to outlaw almost all abortions in the state.  The bill makes it a felony punishable by not less than one nor more than three years in prison for anyone to "perform or induce an abortion upon a pregnant woman."  The bill also requires revocation of the license of any physician performing an abortion, and prohibits any physician participating in the performance of an abortion from obtaining or renewing a medical license in the state. The only exclusion is for "an abortion necessary to preserve the life of the mother...." However this does not include the situation in which the physician determines "that the woman may engage in conduct which she intends to result in her death."

As reported by Huffington Post, it is unclear whether or not Governor Mary Fallin will sign the law which is clearly unconstitutional under current U.S. Supreme Court precedent. It should be noted that, besides the constitutional concern, the language of the bill creates a number of questions.  While the bill does not explicitly prescribe punishment for the woman who has procured the abortion, existing law, Oklahoma Statutes, Title 21, Sec. 172, provides that "All persons concerned in the commission of crime, whether it be felony or misdemeanor, and whether they directly commit the act constituting the offense, or aid and abet in its commission ... are principals." Also, it is unclear whether the bill's ban on licensure of any physician who participates in performing an abortion would apply to those who while in medical training in other states participate in the procedure there.