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By Brittany Wilson, Staff Writer
The Oklahoma Legislation started their 2022 sessions this week with a slew of anti-abortion bills. Senate Bill 1167, filed by Sen. George Burns (R) titled the “Every Mother Matters Act,” or EMMA seems to be the most radical.
The bill would establish a government database for pregnant women looking to get abortions in Oklahoma. Burns states that “the goal is to give women the support they need to choose life, instead of abortion, with an ultimate goal of ending abortion.”
Anti-abortion bills are not new to Oklahoma and are only getting more strict in recent years. Last year alone, the nation watched Oklahoma pass a six-week abortion ban following Texas, which outlaws abortions even at extreme cases. Allowing individuals to sue anyone supporting abortions up to $10,000. Oklahoma state Rep Sean Roberts (R) announced last month to introduce bills that mirror Texas concerning abortion.
Fast-forward to February 2022, and there’ve been 11 pre-filled anti-abortion bills before the legislative session began, threatening the body sovereignty, and privacy of a pregnant woman.
Bill allows government to track pregnant women
Under SB 1167, any woman seeking abortion must be given a pre-abortion resource access assistance offer. This resource is through a hotline where they are connected to a resource assistant, but the person helping is legally not allowed to refer the patient to an abortion provider. Whether or not the woman accepts care from the phone call, she is assigned a “unique identifying number” and all abortion providers in the State would be mandated to keep the information for seven years. If she does accept the offer, it is claimed to include services that help with housing, employment, childcare, health care, adoption services and more.
“Many women facing unexpected pregnancies turn to abortion because they feel like they have no choice. We want to make sure they have an opportunity to connect with medical, financial and other resources,” Burns recently said.
But, SB 1167 is not new, it only accompanies informed -consent laws that Oklahoma has in place requiring pregnant people be told about abortion alternatives when they are seeking services. And tracking pregnant people who are seeking abortions can make things even more complicated. Meanwhile, with Oklahoma having one of the highest maternal mortality rates for Back people in the country, many are wondering whether legislation is focusing on the most urgent health needs in the state.
“[W]e have absolutely seen the bills get more and more extreme,” said Oklahoma House Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D). “That’s due to the national landscape and the conservative majority on the Supreme Court. I think the anti-abortion movement has been strengthened and emboldened by that. And with our current governor, it’s pretty likely that he’ll sign any anti-abortion bill that makes it to his desk.”