Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

Women’s Right To Choose

Again Trampled, This Time in Sooner State

Mickey Mantle was born in Oklahoma but other than that, I can see absolutely no good reason to live in that dusty, backward, God forsaken land where any woman who has an abortion, even if she is raped or is a victim of incest, can now go to prison for 10 years.
A new Oklahoma bill banning abortions now takes the top spot in denying basic human rights and appealing to the craven base, moving ahead of Texas whose draconian new abortion law bans the procedure after about six weeks, a very early stage of pregnancy, but downright liberal compared with Oklahoma. New laws in Florida and Kentucky ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and Idaho prohibits the procedure after six weeks.
“It’s an honor to be the most pro-life governor in the country and I will always step up to protect the lives of unborn children,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt, who is apparently more concerned with keeping a political score card, and winning the title of the reddest state, than with respecting the rights of women to choose what happens to their bodies.
Oklahoma lawmakers yesterday approved a near-total ban on abortions, making it the latest Republican-led state to forge ahead with stringent abortion legislation while the Supreme Court weighs a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade later this year. The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision established a constitutional right to abortion and prohibited states from banning the procedure before fetal viability, or around 23 weeks.
The Sooner measure, Senate Bill 612, would outlaw any abortion “except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency,” a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine of $100,000.
Not that I am surprised as Oklahoma battles for the top post against such top drawer, reactionary states like Texas, Florida, Idaho and blah blah blah.
Last year, Stitt signed a bill prohibiting the teaching of critical race theory or its gender equivalent in public schools and invoked the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., when he signed the bill.
The first law Stitt signed after taking office was to allow anyone 21 or older, or 18 if a member or veteran of the Armed Forces, to carry a firearm without a permit or training. The bill also expanded places a firearm may be carried to include municipal zoos and parks, regardless of size, as long as the gun is concealed.
The good governor is a staunch opponent of masks and other restrictions to stem the extent of COVID-19. In June 2020, Stitt attended the Trump rally in Tulsa, and was seen without wearing a mask. Two weeks later he tested positive for COVID-19. Later, in April, Stitt ordered a massive purchase of hydroxychloroquine, a drug of unproven efficacy as a treatment against the coronavirus but which had been heavily promoted by Trump and his allies.
Such is the extent of his bootlicking, that Stitt signed a bill to name a 20 mile stretch on state highway 287 after trump.
Here are a few facts about the state that brought us Timothy McVeigh and the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing; the Tulsa race massacre of 1915; and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, made famous by another Okie, Woody Guthrie.
The Oklahoma City bombing killed 168 people, including 19 children. For his crime, McVeigh was executed by the federal government on June 11, 2001. His accomplice, Terry Nichols, is serving life in prison without parole.
The Ku Klux Klan was alive and lynching when the Tulsa race massacre broke out in 1921, as White mobs attacked Black people. The pogrom resulted in 35 city blocks destroyed, $1.8 million in property damage, and a death toll estimated at between 75 and 300 people.
The Dust Bowl is the period of the 1930s when parts of Oklahoma began to pay the price for longstanding, poor farming practices. Extensive periods of little rainfall, strong winds, abnormally high temperatures and deadly dust storms sent thousands of farmers into poverty and forced them to relocate to more fertile areas of the western United States.
The political climate in Oklahoma may have something to do with the state having more tornadoes than any other place on earth.
Not to fat shame, but Oklahomans are in the upper half of Americans in terms of obesity prevalence, and the state is the five most obese in the nation, with 30.3 percent of its population at or near obesity. The state also ranked last among the 50 states in a 2007 study by the Commonwealth Fund on health care performance. Of course, Gov. Bitt, opposes Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma.
Obesity and poor health care are likely factors in why the residents of Oklahoma have a lower life expectancy than the U.S. national average. In 2014, men in Oklahoma lived an average of 73.7 years compared to a male national average of 76.7 years and women lived an average of 78.5 years compared to a female national average of 81.5 years
Oklahoma has capital punishment as a legal sentence and from 1976 through mid-2011, the state had the highest per capita execution rate in the nation. Known as “the world’s prison capital,” a total of 1,079 of every 100,000 residents were in prison in 2018, the highest incarceration rate of any state, or for that matter, any country in the world.
In 2016, Oklahoma teachers were the 49th lowest paid in the nation, according to a report from the National Education Association. On the same note, Oklahoma spent $7,755 for each student in 2008 and was 47th in the nation in expenditures per student.
In a 2020 study, Oklahoma was ranked as the 14th hardest state in which to vote.
Oklahoma is overwhelmingly Christian and Tulsa, the state’s second-largest city, home to Oral Roberts University, is sometimes called the “buckle of the Bible Belt.”
The more abysmal Oklahoma natives include David Duke, a white nationalist, politician, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist; Cattle Annie and Little Britches, both notorious female bandits of the Old West; and not to be outdone, Belle Starr, queen of the outlaws and known as the female Jesse James.
Oklahoma is mostly bad but not all bad. In addition to being the birthplace of Mickey Mantle, others who called Oklahoma home, were Jim Thorpe, considered by many to be the greatest athlete ever; baseball Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Warren Spahn; the humorist and conscience of the nation, Will Rogers; the singing cowboy, Gene Autry; William Boyd who gained fame as Hopalong Cassidy; Lon Chaney Jr., the quintessential wolf man; Wiley Post, the first pilot to fly solo around the world; and last but not least, Sheb Wooley, who gained universal fame with his hit song, “Purple People Eater.”
Oklahoma’s latest anti-abortion bill is just an extension of the state’s oppressive and feeble-minded position on abortion. Even before the latest bill, as of Jan. 1, 2022:
A patient must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage the patient from having an abortion and then wait 72 hours before the procedure is provided.
Abortion is covered only in cases of life endangerment in all private insurance policies, the state’s health exchange under the Affordable Care Act and coverage for public employees. People can get coverage with an optional rider at an added cost.
The parent of a minor must consent and be notified before an abortion is provided.
Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
A patient must undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion.
An abortion may be performed at 20 or more weeks after fertilization or 22 weeks after the last menstrual period only in cases of life endangerment or severely compromised health.
Abortions are prohibited if performed for the purpose of sex selection.
The state requires abortion clinics to meet unnecessary and burdensome standards related to their physical plant, equipment and staffing. In 2017, 96 percent of Oklahoma counties had no clinics that provided abortions, and 53 percent of Oklahoma’s women lived in those counties.
Go Sooners.

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