An Oklahoma bill filed Thursday would prohibit all abortions in the state and make the killing of unborn babies a felony.
News Oklahoma reports state Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow, filed Senate Bill 13 this week after a similar bill failed in the state legislature in 2017.
The controversial bill would prohibit the killing of unborn babies without exception and amend the definition of homicide to include all abortions, according to the report. It appears that both abortionists and mothers could face criminal charges for aborting an unborn baby under the legislation.
Silk also included language in his bill in an attempt to get around an almost certain legal challenge.
Senate Bill 13 says “The Attorney General shall direct state agencies to enforce those laws regardless of any contrary or conflicting federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, or court decisions.” As has been made clear in Oklahoma courts and other cases, the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade supersedes any state’s attempt to prohibit abortion.
Silk seems to attempt to address this issue with a clause in the bill that would preclude state attorneys from arguing the case in court if the legislation prompts a federal lawsuit.
“Any federal statute, regulation, executive order or court decision which purports to supersede, stay or overrule this Act is in violation of the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma and the Constitution of the United States of America and is therefore void,” SB 13 reads. “The State of Oklahoma and its political subdivisions, and agents thereof, may not enter an appearance, special or otherwise, in any federal suit challenging this Act.”
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It seems unlikely that Silk’s bill will be approved by the state legislature. Historically, the pro-life movement has opposed punishing mothers who have abortions. Even if the bill does pass, it almost certainly would be struck down in court. Pro-life advocates long for the days when every baby’s life is protected from the moment of conception, but these types of laws have not been successful at saving lives.
When considering a similar Missouri statute in 1989, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist ruled that the personhood statute was nothing more than a statement of position that had no bearing on banning abortions or even limiting them in any way.
Missouri had approved a statute saying, “the life of each human being begins at conception” and “unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being.” The statute required that all state laws be interpreted to provide unborn children with rights equal to those enjoyed by other persons.
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri struck down that provision and the abortion limits. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the decision.
The U.S. Supreme Court then ruled that it did not need to consider the constitutionality of the law’s preamble, defining personhood at conception, as it could not be used to support any abortion laws that conflicted with Roe v. Wade. Rehnquist wrote the decision. Ultimately, the Supreme Court upheld the personhood language Missouri used decades ago but did not allow it to ban — or even limit — any abortions.
There is more hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court may uphold protections for the unborn. But legal scholars have speculated that the conservative court would be more likely to consider cases that gradually chip away at Roe v. Wade rather than reverse it completely.