An Oklahoma Resolution Implies That Abortion Should Be Treated As Murder

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Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, and abortion is a legal, constitutional right. Some in the anti-abortion movement, however, still refuse to accept this: On Monday, lawmakers in Oklahoma ordered state officials to treat abortion as murder. HR 1004, which passed by a voice vote, directs "every public official in Oklahoma to exercise their authority to stop murder of unborn children by abortion," and furthermore declares that "the Supreme Court of the United States overstepped its authority by federalizing the issue of abortion on demand which should have been properly left to the province of each state."

Importantly, HR 1004 is a mere resolution, which means that it doesn't actually carry as much power as a law. It directs all public officials in the state — "including but not limited to sheriffs, district attorneys, judges and justices, the Attorney General, and the Governor" — to "exercise their authority as appropriate in their respective jurisdictions" to prevent abortions from being performed. It also asserts that, because murder is illegal at the federal level, Oklahoma has the right to pass laws banning non-elective abortions. This assertion, of course, rests on the premise that fetuses are human lives and thus enjoy all of the rights and protections of U.S. citizens; oddly enough, however, the bill doesn't actually state that this is the case.

The resolution's sponsor, Rep. Chuck Strohm, said that the U.S. Supreme Court "had no authority to do what [it] did" when it deemed abortion a constitutional right. "What happens when a court — and not just any court, but the highest court in the land — violates the most basic law known to mankind, the right to life?" Strohm asked on the House floor.

Again, the resolution doesn't actually change any laws in Oklahoma (which, incidentally, already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country). It simply states that, in the opinion of the Oklahoma legislature, Oklahoma officials don't have to follow Roe v. Wade, and should take active steps to prevent women from obtaining abortions in the state.

What remains unclear at this point is whether this is simply a flashy bit of showboating on the part of Oklahoma lawmakers, or if state officials will actually attempt to defy Roe v. Wade. If they do, there will almost certainly be lawsuits to follow. Ultimately, abortion is legal, and as much as they might like to, individual states don't get to override the U.S. Supreme Court.