As Republicans continue their bid to oppress women across the country by banning abortion access, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) is threatening the 40 Native American tribes in his state against legalizing abortion on tribal lands.
State governments do not have jurisdiction over tribal lands. In fact, only federal and tribal officials have such jurisdiction thanks to treaties going back to the 19th century. Even the Supreme Court recently recognized that 43 percent of Oklahoma is under tribal jurisdiction and therefore protected against state prosecution.
And so, if tribal leaders decided to allow abortion clinics to operate on tribal lands, there is nothing Oklahoma Republicans can do about it because any activity that occurs on tribal land, even if it is deemed illegal by the state, cannot be prosecuted under state law.
And that’s why Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt chose to threaten all of the Native American tribes in his state and proclaimed that state officials are “watching” them. He even demonized them for visiting President Joe Biden and accused them of being liberals.
“Oklahomans will not think very well of that if tribes try to set up abortion clinics,” Stitt told Fox News Sunday. “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. 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.”
Just as Native Americans can build and operate casinos on tribal lands despite state laws banning casinos, the tribes could also allow abortion clinics to continue offering crucial services to women in the state and from elsewhere, thus creating a safe haven for women at a time when Republicans are obsessed with turning America into a version of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. They are emboldened by a leaked Supreme Court draft majority opinion that utilized dubious legal arguments from medieval times.
It should also be pointed out that recent polling indicates that a majority of Oklahomans support legal abortion.
Clearly, just as Republicans are willing to outright attack and punish corporations for criticizing or opposing them, Republicans are now threatening to violate and eliminate Native American sovereignty within their own territory to enforce their fascist agenda.
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