In response to a ban issued by the state of California on non-essential state-funded travel to Oklahoma, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has announced an identical ban on travel to California.
The first-term Republican governor issued an executive order Jan. 23 preventing state employees from traveling to California except for business recruiting trips, university sports games and middle school, high school and college trips necessary to participate in various programs and events.
California announced a travel ban on Oklahoma in 2018 after the state passed a law allowing faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to place children under the care of same-sex couples.
“California will not use state resources to support states that pass discriminatory laws. … California taxpayers are taking a stand against bigotry and in support of those who would be harmed by this prejudiced policy,” the state’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
Last year, San Francisco took things further, announcing it was banning city-funded travel to 22 states with “restrictive abortion laws,” one of which is Oklahoma.
Stitt decided it was time for his state to reciprocate.
“California and its elected officials over the past few years have banned state travel to the State of Oklahoma in an effort to politically threaten and intimidate Oklahomans for their personal values,” he said in a statement as he announced his executive order.
“Enough is enough,” Stitt continued. “If California’s elected officials don’t want public employees traveling to Oklahoma, I am eager to return the gesture on behalf of Oklahoma’s pro-life stance.”
“I am proud to be Governor of a state that fights for the most vulnerable among us, the unborn,” he said.
Oklahoma law prohibits abortions from taking place after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless doing so is necessary to protect the health or life of the mother. Mothers considering abortion must first wait 72 hours and receive counseling information first.
According to the updated Assembly Bill 1887, the California ban extends to states that have “enacted a law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”
Eleven states are on the banned list: Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
San Francisco’s abortion-based ban came in October, when Mayor London Breed announced that the city would not fund travel to 22 states or enter any contracts with companies whose headquarters are located there, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Every day in this country, women’s reproductive rights are threatened, and we have to fight back,” Breed said. “Just as we restricted spending with states that have laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people, we are standing up against states that put women’s health at risk and that are actively working to limit reproductive freedoms.
“By limiting travel and contracting with certain states, we are sending a clear message to states that disregard the right to abortion.”
The city issued the ban in hopes that other governments would follow suit.
“Although tax revenue from San Francisco alone may not be sufficient to encourage states to rethink their laws, if other cities and states follow San Francisco’s lead, the financial pressure might be enough to prompt policy changes,” Breed’s office said, according to the Times.
Oklahoma will not be bowing to the pressure anytime soon. Stitt has made it clear that his priority is protecting life.
“As I have said all along, I believe that life begins at conception,” the governor said last year, according to Tulsa World. “We want to be No. 1 in protecting life in the U.S.”
Stitt continues to prioritize the protection of the unborn, saying that he will “sign every piece of pro-life legislation that hits my desk.”
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