By Katie Harbinson
With the fall of Roe v Wade upon us, we must begin to envision a world without equitable abortion access. In Oklahoma, we have a terrifying view of what is to come; just last month, the state enacted a total abortion ban with very few exceptions. This ban is the strictest in the country and claims that life begins at the moment of conception. While there are exceptions for incest or sexual assault, the survivor must have a police report on file to obtain an abortion. Given how underreported sexual violence is, this requirement effectively nullifies these exceptions.
Oklahoma has also copied the bounty hunting clause of Texas’ SB-8, allowing citizens to file suit against those believed to be assisting with abortions in any capacity. If a vigilante lawsuit is successful, the plaintiffs are awarded $10,000 and legal fees. Meanwhile, if the defendant wins the lawsuit, they are unable to recoup any fees associated with the suit. The impact of this vigilante clause is heartbreaking—patients are afraid to seek miscarriage management and providers are turning away patients experiencing complications after miscarriages or abortions out of fear. In addition to the lives lost by lack of access to abortion care, these vigilante clauses will only increase the already too stark death toll.
Across the country, anti-abortion extremists stand poised to enact similar abortion bans in light of the repeal of Roe. These pieces of legislation are known as “trigger bans,” meaning the ban can be triggered into action after the repeal of abortion protections in Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey. While the legislation and process of enacting these laws vary on a state-by-state basis, they will not go into effect immediately after Roe is repealed. While many states have already enacted their trigger bans, abortion access still varies greatly by state.