Oklahoma Governor Signs Measure Tripling State’s Waiting Period for Women Seeking Safe and Legal Abortion Services
72-hour mandatory delay is latest in string of legislative attacks on reproductive health care access in a region devastated by extreme abortion restrictions
(PRESS RELEASE) Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a measure into law last night that will triple the state’s mandatory waiting period from 24 to 72 hours for all women seeking abortion services—making Oklahoma the fourth U.S. state to force women to delay constitutionally protected health care for at least three days
With this measure–which is slated to take effect on November 1 and makes no exceptions for survivors of rape and incest—Oklahoma now has the longest mandatory delay in the region. HB1409 comes on the heels of an onslaught of other measures in the South which are designed solely to choke off women’s access to the full range of reproductive health services, including a measure signed by Governor Fallin last month which criminalizes doctors for providing a safe and common method of abortion.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“In a region where access to reproductive healthcare is under relentless attack, the last thing Oklahoma women need is another roadblock to safe and legal abortion care.
“This law’s purpose is to second-guess women’s ability to decide for themselves what is right for themselves and their families, and its effect will be to delay women from receiving safe, legal abortion care earlier in pregnancy.
“It’s time for Oklahoma politicians to get their priorities straight and actually advance women’s health and safety, not enact measure after measure that serve only to shame, demean, and harm women.”
Oklahoma’s measure is one of the many mandatory delays moving through statehouses this legislative session. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a two day waiting period last month, while similar measures are currently moving through the statehouses in Florida and Tennessee.
From clinic shutdown laws—which have closed clinics in Texas and threaten to shutter abortion providers in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama—to outright bans on abortion, women in the South face innumerable hurdles when trying to access their constitutional right to safe and legal abortion services.
Oklahoma women face many of these challenges, with only two clinics providing safe and legal abortion services in the entire state. Rather than focusing on increasing the number of policies that are known to support women and children, politicians in Oklahoma have spent their time enacting abortion restrictions that do nothing to improve women’s health and safety. In fact, Oklahoma has been brought to court at least six times since 2010 to defend restrictions on abortion and contraception, including unconstitutional attacks on medication abortion and a Texas-style clinic shutdown law.