There’s no such thing as a “good” or “reasonable” abortion ban, and any restriction that could force someone to be pregnant longer than they want to be is extreme. That said, state legislatures are really out here trying to compete for Worst Abortion Ban, and as of this week, Oklahoma has managed to pull ahead of the pack.
Oklahoma’s State Senate just advanced a bill that would ban abortion if more than 30 days (one month!) have passed since the beginning of someone’s last menstrual period, except in cases necessary to protect the life of the pregnant person. Of course, many people won’t even know they’re pregnant at that point, considering that most pregnancy tests can’t provide accurate results until at least 10 days after conception. In effect, the bill is a total abortion ban that’s now passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee by an 8-3 vote, and now moves to the Senate floor, where anti-abortion Republicans hold a 39-9 majority.
Oklahoma’s 30-day ban comes just days before the conservative Texas Supreme Court will hear arguments for Texas’ abortion ban, which bans abortion at about six weeks—also before many people realize they’re pregnant—and is enforced via citizen surveillance, and the threat of costly lawsuits against anyone who provides or even helps someone get an abortion. Texas’ ban, which has been in effect for nearly six months and caused neighboring states like Oklahoma to see a dramatic influx in out-of-state abortion patients, has since been co-opted by nearly a dozen other states. This includes Idaho, which is now on the verge of passing its Texas-style ban through the Senate.
Notably, Florida, West Virginia, and Arizona passed 15-week abortion bans in their own legislatures just last week, all as the Supreme Court prepares to issue a ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health—a case regarding Mississippi’s 15-week ban, which has the potential to reverse Roe v. Wade altogether.
For the time being, if successful, Oklahoma’s 30-day abortion ban would become the most stringent in the nation. But really, who knows what fresh horrors await tomorrow, as states quite literally race each other to criminalize abortion, enact dystopian fetal personhood laws, and transform really any pregnant person into a state-controlled oven.
The surge in bans and restrictions that we’re seeing today—including over 100 new state restrictions enacted in 2021 alone—is a culmination of years of right-wing politicians’ anti-abortion crusade. Today, the Supreme Court holds a 6-3 conservative majority that’s doing whatever TF it wants, and the judicial landscape itself is indelibly shaped by a former president who pledged to end Roe. Republicans hold majorities in most state legislatures, and years of liberal complicity on the issue—including declining to even say the word “abortion”—have yielded a perfect storm for these laws to sweep the country.
While the rest of the world (Colombia most recently) moves forward on abortion rights, state lawmakers like those in Oklahoma aren’t just dragging the US backwards—they’re competing to see who can take us the furthest into dystopian hell.