Oklahoma Republican state Senator Joseph Silk has been promoting SB 13 for the last three months, a bill that would criminalize all abortions — no exceptions. The measure is now tabled, according to Media Matters, but the organization is displeased with the way Silk's bill was covered by news outlets.
The senator has ties to a radical anti-abortion community which supports the “abolition” of abortion rights, but Silk’s extreme affiliations were never adequately addressed in the Oklahoma media.
SB 13 would reclassify abortion as homicide, and both doctors who give abortions and patients who receive them would become felons. No exceptions would be given for cases of rape or incest, and those who use certain forms of contraception or fertility treatment, such as Plan B or in vitro fertilization, would also be penalized.
Although SB 13 is likely unconstitutional, it has inspired comparable legislation in other states such as Texas, Colorado, and Indiana.
Silk also spoke at a campaign rally for gubernatorial candidate Dan Fisher in March 2018 — a rally hosted by Operation Save America, another extreme anti-abortion group. Fisher, like Silk, ran on his “abolitionist” campaign platform. He was committed to “defy the federal government” and “make Oklahoma the first abortion-free state.” Fisher’s campaign failed, but his staff founded the abortion abolition organization Free the States. The organization frequently hosts events which support Silk and SB 13. In the past year he gave multiple exclusive interviews to Free the State and endorsed the ideology of the group. Free the State announced that it will “gather our resources and put all hands on deck to demand that [Silk’s] bill is passed.”
The Oklahoma media made no note of Silk’s extremist affiliations, and also allowed Silk and those who support him to use the bill’s platform to make crude comparisons between abortion and slavery, as well as abortion and the holocaust. There was no media pushback during or after the rally. More, in the series of articles published by Oklahoma media covering Silk’s rally, the only pro-choice perspective included was a short quote from a Democratic legislator who said that the bill is unlikely to be passed.
Women face prosecution around the country for miscarrying or administering self-abortions. One woman in Iowa, for example, was charged with feticide when she accidentally fell down the stairs while pregnant. Bills such as SB 13 will only intensify the nationwide struggle.