The “Oklahoma Heartbeat Act,” Senate Bill 1503, takes effect immediately and prohibits abortions at the time when a physician can detect early cardiac activity in an embryo or fetus, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — before many women even know that they are pregnant. The measure provides exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest.
“I am proud to sign SB 1503, the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act into law,” Stitt, a Republican, said in a tweet with photographs of him signing the legislation. “I want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country because I represent all four million Oklahomans who overwhelmingly want to protect the unborn.”
Abortion rights on the brink: Catch up on the developmentsAbortion rights on the brink: Catch up on the developments

SB 1503 would also allow private citizens to bring a civil lawsuit against a person who performs or induces an abortion, intends to perform an abortion, or knowingly aids or abets an abortion, such as paying for the procedure. Under the bill, relief would include at least $10,000 in statutory damages for each abortion the defendant performed or aided in violation of the act, legal fees and compensatory damages.

The bill would prohibit civil action against certain individuals, including the woman who had the abortion or sought the procedure. The bill also would bar a person who impregnated a woman through rape, sexual assault or incest from bringing a civil action.

Last month, Stitt signed a near-total abortion ban into law that makes performing an abortion illegal in the state, with an exception only in the case of a medical emergency.

That law, which is expected to take effect this summer, makes performing or attempting to perform an abortion a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $100,000 or a maximum of 10 years in state prison, or both.

Abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood and the Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic, last week filed two separate challenges to SB 1503, the Texas copycat bill, and SB 612, the near-total abortion ban signed by Stitt last month.

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