Oklahoma Advances Bill Banning Abortion 30 Days Into Pregnancy

The average person who carries a fetus does not even realize they're pregnant at that point.

Oklahoma lawmakers have advanced legislation that would ban abortion 30 days into pregnancy ― one of the most aggressive of the recent attempts to restrict the procedure.

The state Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee sent the legislation to the Senate floor Monday after an 8-3 vote. The bill seeks to outlaw abortion if more than 30 days have elapsed since the beginning of a patient’s last menstrual period, except in cases necessary to protect the life or health of the mother.

When calculating how far along a patient is into their pregnancy, doctors typically count back from the first day of a patient’s most recent period, but ovulation generally occurs 11 to 21 days into the cycle.

The bill’s sponsor, Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R), celebrated its progress, saying in a statement: “The prevalence of abortions is a tragedy for our society. Hopefully, the U.S. Supreme Court will soon take steps that will allow Oklahoma and other states to have laws that accurately reflect our collective desire to protect the unborn.”

In reality, more than half of the people in Oklahoma say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, studies show. Nationwide, that figure is even higher.

Treat’s legislation would leave patients with a tiny window of time to seek out and schedule an abortion, make arrangements for missing work, provide for child care and then travel to a site that offers abortion care. It would allow them even less time to realize they might be pregnant and take a pregnancy test, which generally won’t provide accurate results until at least 10 days after conception, and then make an informed decision on what they want to do next.

On average, a person in the U.S. won’t know they’re pregnant until about 5½ weeks into term, surpassing the 30-day cutoff.

Further complicating the matter is that Oklahoma only has four abortion providers, and they’ve been inundated with patients from Texas seeking abortion care after that state banned the procedure after six weeks.

Treat objected during the hearing when state Sen. Carri Hicks (D) referred to a 30-day-old embryo as a “clump of cells” about the size of a grain of rice.

“That it is a human being, and I think science backs that up definitively,” Treat claimed.

When she pressed him to explain where the language around 30 days of pregnancy came from, Treat said he “really wished to limit it down to ... the moment of conception” but that this is what the bill-drafting staff came up with.

State Sen. Jo Anna Dossett (D) pressed Treat to say whether the law would apply to children, including ones who are pregnant as the result of rape.

“This would apply to my 9-year-old, right?” she asked him.

He replied that that 9 years old was “pretty young” to be menstruating ― though doctors say that’s not uncommon ― and that he would not “go down every hypothetical road” before confirming the law would apply to a child in that situation.

The bill now goes to the full Senate, which has a 39-9 Republican majority.

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