The Catholic archbishop of Oklahoma City thanked state leaders Wednesday for recognizing the “dignity of every person” after they passed a new law that protects unborn babies by banning abortions.

The Catholic News Agency reports Archbishop Paul Coakley thanked Gov. Kevin Stitt and other lawmakers for enacting the pro-life law, which protects unborn babies from the moment of conception.

“Building a culture of life in Oklahoma that recognizes the inherent dignity of every person requires the protections afforded by pro-life legislation and a profound change of heart,” Coakley said in a statement Wednesday. “Thank you to Oklahoma’s legislative leaders and to Gov. Stitt for supporting pro-life measures.”

The archbishop also urged people to pray for families who are struggling and the pro-lifers who are serving their needs.

“I encourage Oklahomans to pray for women in crisis pregnancy situations, for their families and loved ones, for families waiting to adopt, for fathers, and for the many pregnancy resource centers serving these brave parents,” he said.

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Stitt signed the abortion ban into law earlier this week, making Oklahoma the state with the most protective pro-life law in the country. The new law went into effect immediately, and all four abortion facilities stopped aborting unborn babies. Pro-abortion groups have sued to block the law, but the courts have not acted yet.

The pro-life legislation is a Texas-style law that includes a private right of action as enforcement, but instead of protecting unborn babies at six weeks when their heartbeat can be detected, the Oklahoma law protects unborn babies from the moment of conception when their life begins. It allows exceptions for rape, incest and risks to the mother’s life.

The legislation could save nearly 4,000 unborn babies from abortion every year.

In his signature message, Stitt promised that Oklahoma will always stand for life.

“From the moment life begins at conception is when we have a responsibility as human beings to do everything we can to protect that baby’s life and the life of the mother,” the governor said. “That is what I believe and that is what the majority of Oklahomans believe. If other states want to pass different laws, that is their right, but in Oklahoma we will always stand up for life.”

This is the second Texas-style law that the state legislature approved this session. The first bans abortions when the unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected. State lawmakers have been passing a variety of pro-life laws so that Oklahoma is ready to protect unborn babies when the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, as many expect will happen this summer.

All across the country, state lawmakers have introduced hundreds of pro-life bills this year in anticipation that the Supreme Court could overturn Roe soon. Since 1973, states have been forced to legalize abortions without limits up to viability, and more than 63.5 million unborn babies have been killed.

The Guttmacher Institute estimates 26 states “are certain or likely to ban abortions” if the Supreme Court gets rid of Roe. And one research group estimates that abortion numbers would drop by about 120,000 in the first year and potentially even more in subsequent years if the high court allows states to ban abortions again.

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