How could Oklahoma's anti-abortion bill affect Texans?

A bill on the governor's desk in Oklahoma could affect Texans seeking abortions.

Senate Bill 612 makes it a felony for anyone to perform an abortion, except in a medical emergency. 

Oklahoma State Representative Jim Olsen (R-Roland) is one of the bill's authors. 

"I have no doubt that they are very strongly pro-life in my part of the state, and I think that’s true in most areas of the state as well," he told FOX 25 in Oklahoma City.

After Texas' abortion law went into effect last year, Texans flooded Oklahoma abortion clinics.

Trust Women has a clinic in Oklahoma City and one in Wichita, Kansas.

"It's really a tragic situation happening now," Zack Gingrich-Gaylord with Trust Women said.

He says 60 to 65 percent of patients in their Oklahoma City clinic are from Texas. That's pushing Oklahoman patients further north. 

In their Wichita clinic, 50 percent of their patients are from Oklahoma. They've had an average of 200 calls in two hours there.

Gingrich-Gaylord says they've hired more staff and expanded their hours.

"At the end of the day, we will not able to see everyone who needs this care. That weighs heavily on all of us," he said.

He says with an abortion ban, "some people will continue to travel, but if Oklahoma were to ban abortions in a similar matter as Texas, there would be a significant amount of people who will not leave the state. They may be forced to carry pregnancies that are damaging to their health, that may kill them. They may be forced to carry pregnancies to term for children they're unable to care for, it's a really disastrous situation."

Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas says from January 2021 to January 2022, there was a 2,000% increase in patients traveling from Planned Parenthood centers in Texas to their clinics in Oklahoma.

"We were already at a stretched capacity trying to provide abortion care to patients seeking it, and now with this statewide ban that Oklahoma is putting in place, we're incredibly concerned about how vulnerable and precarious this is for patients who are going to take whatever steps they need to access and abortion," Sarah Wheat, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said.

She points out that those with resources can get on a plane and go somewhere else, but those who are low income, can't get time off work, or don't have reliable transportation are going to disproportionally affected.

"We're really creating two sets of laws, one for those who can access resources to navigate to another state, and those who are going to be trapped by Texas and now Oklahoma's extreme abortion bans," Wheat said.

John Seago, legislative director of Texas Right to Life, supports the Texas law.

"We don't believe that elective abortion is ethical. We believe elective abortion represents an act of violence, an act of injustice," he said.

"Because of Texas' extreme abortion restrictions, we've got so many patients that we see who are two days too late to be able to safely access an abortion in a healthcare setting here in Texas and now they're forced to leave the state," Wheat said.

When Olsen was asked about people finding other ways to get abortions, he said, "well you know, should we throw away our murder statute because it won’t totally eliminate murder? No."

"With Oklahoma adding a ban, we're taking away the very limited options that many Texans had and putting women in a really vulnerable and precarious place," Wheat said.

There is another bill in Oklahoma, Senate Bill 1503, that mirrors the Texas heartbeat bill. Republican lawmakers there say it's to solidify their stance as a U.S. Supreme Court case on abortion is pending.

Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma has said before that he will sign any pro-life legislation that comes to his desk. If passed, the law will take effect in the summer.

Oklahoma abortion bill passes legislature, would make it illegal with just 1 exception

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