On Wednesday, the Oklahoma state legislature enacted a bill prohibiting abortions from the time of fertilization, with a few exceptions, the toughest prohibition in the United States to date.
Oklahoma's action follows measures taken by other Republican-led states to restrict access to abortions in advance of the US Supreme Court's expected decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. This 1973 landmark case legalized abortion nationally.
The Oklahoma bill is now on its way to the desk of Republican Governor Kevin Stitt, who is likely to sign it and put it into immediate effect.
Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris blasted the new bill in a Wednesday tweet, calling it "the latest in a string of blatant attacks on women by extremist legislators."
Other Republican-led states, like Florida, Mississippi, and Texas, have implemented legislation that the Supreme Court previously would have ruled unconstitutional based on Roe v. Wade. Still, a new conservative majority may now tolerate them.
Six of the nine justices of the United States Supreme Court are conservative. Three were selected by former President Donald Trump, who pledged only to appoint judges who would reverse the nearly 50-year Roe v. Wade decision.
The Oklahoma law employs a new enforcement process previously established by Texas, which permits private persons — not the state — to sue anybody who "performs or induces an abortion" or "assists or abets" a woman seeking an abortion.
Under the proposed law, the plaintiff would collect a minimum of $10,000 plus court expenses and legal fees for each abortion conducted.
The Oklahoma measure offers exceptions for rape and incest, but these must be reported to authorities beforehand.
It also provides exceptions for pregnancies that endanger the mother's life.
In the same month as Texas, Oklahoma likewise passed a bill prohibiting abortions after a heartbeat can be found, often six weeks into a pregnancy.
A very unusual leak of a draft Supreme Court ruling earlier this month revealed that the conservative justices were considering overturning Roe v. Wade in favor of state-by-state legislation.
This revelation sparked protests and Democratic pledges to make abortion access a centerpiece of their campaign for the midterm elections in November.
"It has never been more important to elect pro-choice leaders at the local, state, and federal levels," added Harris, echoing President Joe Biden and Democratic congressional leaders.
The Supreme Court's final verdict should be known by the end of June.