OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (LifeSiteNews) – The pro-life governor of Oklahoma warned Native American tribes not to exploit their sovereignty to set up abortion facilities on reservations as a way to avoid the state’s laws against abortion.
Republican Governor Kevin Stitt told Fox News on Sunday that he has heard “rumblings” that some reservations may try to host abortionists so people can get around the state’s pro-life laws. He signed a “Life at Conception” law in April that makes it a felony to commit an abortion. In May, he signed a Texas-style heartbeat bill that allows for private lawsuits against people who aid or abet others in getting abortions.
A 2020 Supreme Court decision written by Justice Neil Gorsuch and supported by four liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, practically gave tribal sovereignty to half the state of Oklahoma. The Supreme Court has under consideration a new case this summer that will consider the scope the McGirt decision. Only tribal and federal officials can now prosecute crimes on tribal lands.
“You know, the tribes in Oklahoma are super liberal. They go to Washington, D.C. They talk to President Biden at the White House. They kind of adopt those strategies,” Stitt told Shannon Bream. “So, yeah, we think that there’s a possibility that some tribes may try to set up abortion on demand. They think that you can be 1/1,000th tribal member and not have to follow the state law. And so, that’s something that we’re watching.”
Stitt himself is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation.
“Oklahomans will not take – will not think very well of that if the tribes try to start up abortion clinics, abortion on demand in eastern Oklahoma because the expansion of tribal lands includes the city of Tulsa,” he said.
The governor has said the Supreme Court decision has led to problems policing crime. Jimmy McGirt, who challenged Oklahoma’s authority, had “convictions for first-degree rape by instrumentation, lewd molestation and forcible sodomy,” according to NPR. “[A] federal jury later convicted McGirt, who was sentenced to life imprisonment.”
The current Supreme Court case involves a man named Victor Manuel Castro-Huerta who “was convicted in Oklahoma state court of child neglect, and he was sentenced to 35 years.” He is not a Native American. “The victim, his stepdaughter, is Native American, and the crime was committed within the Cherokee Reservation,” legal website Oyez.org explained.
“Castro-Huerta challenged his conviction, arguing that under the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma, which held that states cannot prosecute crimes committed on Native American lands without federal approval,” the legal website explained.
A ruling that affirms Oklahoma’s ability to prosecute crimes committed by non-Native Americans on tribal lands would make it more difficult for tribes to set up abortion facilities.