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Oklahoma Gov. defends strict abortion law, addresses whether ‘super liberal’ tribal clinics may use loophole

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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt pushed back against critics of his state’s abortion law, which bans abortion when there is a fetal heartbeat, typically six weeks into pregnancy, while recognizing that there is a gaping loophole.

A significant portion of Oklahoma is tribal reservation, and in an interview with “Fox News Sunday” Stitt recognized that tribal members while on tribal grounds do not have to follow state law, and cannot be prosecuted by state officials.

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“The tribes in Oklahoma are super liberal,” he said, noting that they lobby in Washington, D.C. “Yeah, we think there is a possibility that some tribes may try to set up abortion-on-demand. They think you could be 1/1,000th tribal member and not have to follow the state law, so that’s something that we’re watching.”

Stitt did not have much of a counter to this, however, only stating that “Oklahomans will not think very well of that.”

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“I represent 4 million Oklahomans,” he said. “I don’t know how much clearer we could be: we believe life begins at conception and we are going to protect life in Oklahoma.”

In response to a report citing a Pew Research study from 2014 that said 51% of his state supported legal abortion in most or all cases, Stitt said that he “totally disagree[s] with those numbers” and that this is not the sentiment he has observed.

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As of Sunday, laws that ban abortion before fetal viability (about 23 weeks) run afoul of Supreme Court precedent in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. A leaked draft opinion of a pending case dated February overruled Roe v. Wade, but it remains to be seen whether this will ultimately be the court’s majority opinion. The Supreme Court is next scheduled to issue opinions on Monday, but it is unknown which cases will be decided then.

Stitt signed his state’s abortion law the day after the leaked draft went public.

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