Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signs bill that bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, immediately outlawing almost all abortions in the south-central American state.
The governor of Oklahoma state has signed one of most restrictive abortion laws in the United States, hours after a leaked Supreme Court draft ruling indicated the imminent end to nationwide legal abortion.
"I am proud to sign SB 1503, the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act into law," Kevin Stitt said on his Twitter account on Tuesday.
"I want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country because I represent all four million Oklahomans who overwhelmingly want to protect the unborn."
The bill bans abortions after approximately six weeks. It includes exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for cases of rape or incest.
Leaked apex court ruling
Stitt's announcement came after the leaked draft ruling indicated the Supreme Court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that enshrined abortion rights across the United States.
If the draft ruling is confirmed by the court, abortion laws instantly would be left up to individual state legislatures, with as many as half expected to enact bans or new restrictions.
For many women, the potential loss of abortion rights across swaths of the United States raises the prospect of being forced to travel hundreds of miles for the procedure or giving birth in traumatic circumstances.
Republicans like Stitt have pushed hard for years to overturn Roe, and it became only a matter of time after three conservative justices were appointed under former president Donald Trump, shifting the Supreme Court's political balance sharply to the right.
US President Joe Biden blasts a “radical” draft Supreme Court opinion that would throw out the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights ruling that has stood for a half century pic.twitter.com/O2jgZ1koRj— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) May 3, 2022
Meanwhile, protesters on both sides of the US abortion debate faced off with chants, prayers and signs outside the Supreme Court building on Tuesday, hours after the leak of a draft opinion from the high court that would overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
Dozens of people converged on the sidewalk just beyond the barricaded marble steps of the courthouse across the street from the US Capitol on Tuesday, boisterously but peacefully voicing a mix of support for and opposition to ending a constitutional right to abortion nationwide.
Early in the day, anti-abortion protesters outnumbered their opponents as they beat on drums and chanted through megaphones: "Pro-choice is a lie, babies never choose to die," and "Abortion is violence, abortion is oppression."
Some knelt in prayer.
One man wearing a pink sweatshirt in support of Roe v. Wade tried in vain to tamp down the chants of an anti-Roe protester by holding his hand over her megaphone.
Abortion rights advocates shouted back, "Off our bodies" and "abortion saves lives." Others held signs reading, "Abortion is healthcare" and "Abortion is not a dirty word." One sign displayed by a group identifying as Roman Catholics supporting abortion access said, "Thou shall not steal my civil rights."
"I think it can be overturned, and then it's going to become a war on women's rights again," Roe v. Wade supporter Chelsea White told the Reuters news agency outside the court.
"And there's going to be back-alley abortions again. Because abortion, it's never going to be banned. It's never going to go away. All they're doing is sacrificing women's health."