(REVISED 1.19.22) This lawsuit challenges two Oklahoma measures which threaten to make safe and legal abortion even harder to obtain in a state with only two abortion providers.
The first measure, HB 1721, bans the most commonly used method of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester—which could force some women to undergo additional invasive, unnecessary procedures, incur additional costs, delay their care, or even lose access to abortion services entirely. The second measure, HB1409, triples the state’s mandatory waiting period from 24 to 72 hours for all women seeking abortion services–making Oklahoma the fifth U.S. state to force women to delay constitutionally protected health care for at least three days, the longest waiting period in the country.
This lawsuit is the eighth time in five years that the Center for Reproductive Rights has challenged unconstitutional restrictions on reproductive health care in Oklahoma, including a lawsuit filed in September 2015 challenging an omnibus measure that blatantly violates the Oklahoma Constitution’s single subject rule. The Center also successfully challenged the state’s Texas-style clinic shutdown law and most recently passed restrictions on medication abortion. The state Supreme Court temporarily blocked the clinic shutdown law from taking effect in November 2014 and a state court permanently blocked the restrictions on medication abortion last month.
Plaintiff(s): Nova Health Systems d/b/a Reproductive Services
Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Blake Patton at Walding &, Patton
Summary: The Center filed a complaint in Oklahoma state court on October 2, 2015 challenging HB 1721, which bans the most common method of second trimester abortion, and HB 1409, which triples the state’s mandatory waiting period from 24 to 72 hours. The Center is arguing that these measures violate a woman’s constitutional right to abortion, the Oklahoma Constitution’s prohibition on special laws, and were passed for the improper purpose of restricting women’s access to abortion care in Oklahoma. On October 14, the district court granted our motion for a temporary injunction of HB 1721 and the law is now blocked. HB 1409 took effect on November 1, 2015.
On July 13, 2018, we filed a request with the trial court asking that both laws be permanently enjoined as impermissible under the Oklahoma Constitution. On December 11, the trial court upheld the 72 hour delay law. On July 12, 2019, the judge announced from the bench at a hearing that the trial court would uphold the D&E ban. The Center filed a motion to preserve the status quo and keep the D&E ban blocked pending an appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. While the trial court initially denied the motion, the Oklahoma reinstated the temporary injunction pending appeal on November 4. The appeal at the Oklahoma Supreme Court is fully briefed. Awaiting a ruling.