Gov. Mary Fallin signed a measure into law Friday that requires an abortion provider to offer a woman the opportunity to hear the fetus's heartbeat before ending the pregnancy.
Senate Bill 1274 takes effect Nov. 1.
The measure won easy approval in the Republican-controlled Legislature. The Senate passed it 34-8 last month and the House of Representatives approved it 75-12 last week.
Backers said it would empower women by giving them additional information before deciding to go through with the procedure.
Opponents said SB 1274 is unnecessary because existing state law requires a woman to listen to the child's heartbeat as part of its abortion “informed consent” statutes.
Rep. Pam Peterson, the House author of SB 1274, said last week the measure would apply to situations where the unborn baby is eight weeks or older, and the woman would have the choice on whether to hear the heartbeat during a standard pre-procedure exam.
The bill's provisions do not apply when the mother's life is in danger.
Peterson said it is important to ensure informed-consent rights and that the measure gives a woman the opportunity to hear the heartbeat of her unborn child through the use of a fetal heart monitor.
Ryan Kiesel, a former state lawmaker who is executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, questioned the need for the law.
“It's just another example of the Legislature trying to substitute their decisions for the decisions that should be made by the doctors and their patients,” he said.
“Requiring physicians to do something because it serves a political purpose does a disservice to the practice of medicine and the people of Oklahoma who depend upon it.”
Kiesel said his group will watch to see how the law is implemented.
“If we find that this law is being applied in a way to create an unconstitutional burden to a woman's access to her constitutionally protected rights to reproductive health care, then we're certainly going to be interested in remedying that situation,” he said.