Oklahoma’s legislature passed a near-total ban on abortion on Tuesday, while neighboring state Colorado earlier this week established the right to an abortion even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
As the Supreme Court prepares to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, states are passing laws in anticipation that the justices will overturn Roe v. Wade and send the issue of abortion rights and restrictions back to the individual states.
Perhaps nothing illustrates the divide between red and blue states on this issue than these two pieces of legislation. Colorado and Oklahoma may touch geographically, but they are at the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to philosophies on abortion and the value of an unborn child.
Senate Bill 612 passed the Oklahoma Senate last year and has now passed the Republican-led Oklahoma House of Representatives 70-14 with little discussion or debate. It is viewed as the strongest piece of pro-legislation in the country right now as it would make it illegal to perform an abortion for any reason other than to save the life of the mother. The law carries penalties of up to 10 years in prison and $100,000 in fines for any doctor (but not the mother) performing an illegal abortion. Gov. Kevin Stitt, R, is expected to sign the bill.
The legislation passed as Oklahoma has seen an 800 percent increase in abortions ever since Texas imposed its heartbeat law, which bans abortions after six weeks. As a result, Republican state Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat said, “A state of emergency exists in Oklahoma. It’s sickening.”
To the west of Oklahoma’s panhandle, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, D, on Monday signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which doesn’t change state law but codifies the right to an abortion up to the moment of birth for any reason. The legislation states that access to abortion and “reproductive health care” are “under attack,” thus the need for clarification.
The law expresses fundamental reproductive health care rights. “Every individual has a fundamental right to make decisions about the individual’s reproductive health care, including the fundamental right to use or refuse contraception.” It adds, “A pregnant individual has a fundamental right to continue a pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion and to make decisions about how to exercise that right.”
Who doesn’t have rights in Colorado, however, are those in the womb. The law states, “A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of this state.”
Upon signing the bill Polis said, “Colorado has been, is, and will be a pro-choice state.” He continued, “No matter what the Supreme Court does in the future, people in Colorado will be able to choose when and if they have children.” He called restrictions on abortion enormous government infringement on individual rights.
The country is split nearly in half on the issue of abortion. As it stands, all states must allow abortion with only a limited ability to restrict the practice. That could change depending on how the Supreme Court rules in Dobbs.
Despite their close proximity, Colorado and Oklahoma are miles apart on ideology. The Oklahoma bill is an affirmation of the sanctity of life, while the Colorado law shows a disregard for the value of babies.
Colorado declares that there is a fundamental right to an abortion, even a right to contraceptive-free sex, but no right to life. Sure, a woman has the freedom to not use contraceptives, but when that choice results in a baby, she does not then have the right to deprive that child of its natural, God-given right to life by killing that child.
The ideological divide in this country is so great that states have reached drastically different conclusions on what constitutes human life. If Dobbs overturns Roe v. Wade, the U.S. could become two different factions. Step across the state line from Oklahoma into Colorado and instead of an innocent child’s life being valued and protected, that life only has value and deserves protection if its mother says that it does.