NPR’s Ailsa Chang talks with Randy Krehbiel of The Tulsa World about the Oklahoma state House of Representatives has given final approval that would make performing abortion a felony in the state.
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
All right. To Oklahoma now, where the Republican-controlled legislature has approved a bill to make abortion a felony punishable up to 10 years in prison. The state’s Republican governor has pledged to sign any anti-abortion bill that comes to his desk. GOP-led states around the country are advancing anti-abortion legislation as the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court weighs a case that could overturn abortion rights.
With us now is Randy Krehbiel from the Tulsa World to explain more. Welcome.
RANDY KREHBIEL: Thank you.
CHANG: All right, so how would this bill work? Like, would it make it illegal to either perform an abortion or to receive one?
KREHBIEL: Well, the penalties would just apply to those who perform the abortion. So no, it would not apply to women who have abortions. And I should say that we already have in statute legislation that would return Oklahoma to its pre-Roe law or statues if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
CHANG: Right, OK.
KREHBIEL: And so the author – or the House author of this bill says that’s his intention, that if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, then this bill would go into effect.
CHANG: Right. But before the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, should that ever happen, to be clear, this bill would be unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade, correct?
KREHBIEL: That’s correct. Yeah, right. So if – if and when the governor signs this – and he probably will – there’s almost certain to be an immediate challenge to it.
CHANG: So less restrictive anti-abortion legislation had been considered, right? I mean, a total ban seems like the most aggressive measure being advanced anywhere in the U.S. right now.
KREHBIEL: I would guess. I mean, I don’t know what’s going on in other states. And the legislature has already passed something similar to, you know, what Texas had done. And this bill is actually a carryover from last year. This had passed the Senate last year. And it was just – it was just kind of sitting there. We’re on a two-year legislative cycle, you know, sort of like Congress is, so bills that don’t pass during the first session of a legislature are carried over. So this one was just kind of sitting there and was brought up without a whole lot of notice. It appeared on the agenda late yesterday afternoon.
CHANG: And I understand that this bill, it passed as abortion rights supporters were protesting today outside the state Capitol. Did that in any way affect the vote inside the Capitol?
KREHBIEL: Well, I don’t think it affected the vote much. It affected the way the bill was passed. The Democratic minority usually fights these things pretty much tooth and nail. They decided not to today because, A, it was clearly unconstitutional, but also because it was brought up for a vote just as this rally was supposed to begin. And a lot of the Democratic members were scheduled to speak at this rally, so they decided to go ahead and speak at the rally and not fight this. You know, a couple of weeks ago, they had a pretty tense floor fight over the Texas-type bill.
KREHBIEL: And so anyway, the Democrats decided not to fight this. So it didn’t really affect the outcome, but it did affect how the bill was passed. It wound up being passed with very little notice, and in fact, there was no – you know, like usually, the Republicans have some kind of a press release ready to go out. They didn’t…
CHANG: We’re going to have to end it there. That is Randy Krehbiel from the Tulsa World. Thank you very much for joining us today.
KREHBIEL: Sure. Thanks.
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