Vice President Kamala Harris slammed Oklahoma’s anti-abortion bill that passed less than an hour before she met with abortion providers on Thursday.
The vice president gave opening remarks before a virtual discussion with providers and reproductive rights advocates, in which she brought up the Texas-style abortion ban that was just given final approval by the Oklahoma state legislature. The bill would prohibit all abortions from the moment of fertilization and would deputize private citizens in suing providers.
“Now, think about that for a second: from the moment of fertilization,” Harris said. “It’s outrageous, and it’s just the latest in a series of extreme laws around the country. Several of the medical professionals joining us today are seeing the impact of these laws that are designed to punish and control women.”
Harris then heard stories from the abortion providers she met with, all of whom are working in states with extremely restrictive anti-abortion legislation despite personal risk. The providers included an OB/GYN practicing in California, Oklahoma and Kansas, an OB/GYN practicing in Texas, a chief medical officer in Missouri and a nurse in Montana.
The Oklahoma bill that overwhelmingly passed on Thursday is one of at least three anti-abortion bills sent this year to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who has indicated he will sign the latest one. Earlier this month, Stitt signed another Texas-style abortion bill that prohibits abortions after cardiac activity is detected in the embryo ― at about six weeks. A third bill expected to take effect this summer would make it a felony to perform an abortion, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
“At its core, this is about our future as a nation, about whether we live in a country where the government can interfere in personal decisions. This is about our future,” Harris said. “Yet at the same time, we cannot deny that this decision will have real and immediate effects on women around our country.”
The White House lambasted the vote as well on Thursday, warning that the GOP would not stop at abortion rights.
“American people need to know that other fundamental rights, including the right to contraception and marriage equality, are at risk,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
Jean-Pierre also described the Oklahoma bill as “the most extreme effort to undo these fundamental rights we have seen to date.”
“In addition, it adopts Texas’ absurd plan to allow private citizens to sue their neighbors for providing reproductive health care and helping women to exercise their constitutional rights,” she stated. “This is part of a growing effort by ultra MAGA officials across the country to roll back the freedoms we should not take for granted in this country.”
The massive increase in state-level draconian abortion bans comes as the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade in June, after a leaked draft opinion showed the conservative majority ruling to roll back the landmark decision granting abortion rights at the federal level.
The White House has repeatedly said that it will fight for abortion rights, however the administration doesn’t have many options to combat a Supreme Court decision and resulting state laws. Congress recently failed to advance the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have effectively codified Roe v. Wade, putting Americans all over the country at risk of having their reproductive rights taken away.