The governor of Oklahoma on Wednesday signed into law a bill that bars nearly all abortions after fertilization, the country’s strictest ban yet on the procedure.
“I promised Oklahomans that as governor I would sign every piece of pro-life legislation that came across my desk and I am proud to keep that promise today,” Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt said in a statement.
“From the moment life begins at conception is when we have a responsibility as human beings to do everything we can to protect that baby’s life and the life of the mother,” he added.
The bill, approved by Oklahoma legislators last week, follows a similar measure that went into effect in neighboring Texas in September, which gives members of the public the ability to sue doctors who perform abortions – or anyone who helps facilitate them.
The only exceptions from the new law are the need to save the mother’s life as well as rape or incest that have been reported to law enforcement.
Recent efforts by Republican-led states to restrict access to abortions come in anticipation of the Supreme Court likely overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision allowing nationwide access to abortion.
Planned Parenthood, the leading advocate of abortion rights in the United States, said it would challenge the Oklahoma law in court.
“We will never stop working to defend your right to control your body,” the group said.
A draft opinion leaked earlier this month showed the Supreme Court’s conservative majority was on the verge of overturning Roe, sparking mass protests across the country.