States, and now cities, are preparing for the overturning of Roe v. Wade with polar opposite approaches.
San Diego has taken the radical step of declaring itself a “safe city” for abortion access, while Oklahoma has enacted the country’s strongest abortion ban.
Oklahoma’s HB 4327, signed into law Wednesday, exceeds the Texas heartbeat bill in its protection of pre-born babies. It bans abortion from conception, rather than from detection of a heartbeat, in all cases except for incest, rape, sexual assault, or saving the mother’s life.
It does use a similar enforcement mechanism as the Texas bill, authorizing private civil action against abortion providers and those who aid them. A separate bill passed earlier this year in Oklahoma also makes performing an abortion a felony offense carrying up to $100,000 in fines and 10 years in prison.
“From the moment life begins at conception is when we have a responsibility as human beings to do everything we can to protect that baby’s life and the life of the mother,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said.
Also yesterday, the San Diego City Council passed a “Resolution Declaring San Diego a Safe City for Reproductive Freedom and Access to Abortion” in an 8-0 vote.
City Councilman Stephen Whitburn claims that San Diego, as one of the 10 largest cities in the nation, “has the responsibility” to show it is a safe place “where every citizen and visitor will have reproductive freedom and access to abortion.”
“No matter what happens with the Supreme Court ruling, no matter who you are or where you come from, no matter the color of your skin or your socioeconomic status, I want everyone to know that you are welcome in the City of San Diego to exercise your reproductive rights,” he said in a release.
While San Diego believes itself to be the first city nationwide to take this step, Oakland adopted a similar resolution on May 17. At the end of last year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom also announced his plans to make the entire state of California an abortion “sanctuary.” Newsom has since proposed a number of programs aimed at solidifying abortion access in California, including scholarships for healthcare workers who commit to providing abortions and a $57 million "reproductive health package" to “help prepare for the influx of people seeking reproductive health care from other states.”
The stark differences between yesterday’s news from Oklahoma and San Diego show what will happen should Roe v. Wade be overturned. States will be left to decide for themselves on the issue. Places like California will cling more tightly to abortion, while others will make efforts to rid their states of the evil.
Oklahoma’s bill provides a model for what every state should implement. Life, scientifically, begins at conception. The American College of Pediatricians recognizes this as the point when a human is “a genetically distinct” individual and “needing only the proper environment in order to grow and develop.”
Texas's heartbeat bill, which has been estimated to save 100 lives each day, was a step in the right direction. But if life begins at conception, permitting abortion in the early weeks is morally inconsistent. States need to follow Oklahoma's lead in defending human life at every stage.
Katelynn Richardson is a summer 2022 Washington Examiner fellow.