03.02.2022 — (PRESS RELEASE) Today, Republicans in the Oklahoma House of Representatives Committee on Public Health swiftly pushed through a total abortion ban that would eliminate access to care for more than one million people across the state and many more in the surrounding region. Since Texas’ six-week ban on abortion (S.B. 8) took effect six months ago, some Oklahoma abortion providers have seen a nearly 2500% increase in patients from Texas. If this ban were to take effect, it would force pregnant people who have the means to do so to travel even further in a region where abortion access is already scarce.
OK H.B. 4327, authored by Representative Wendi Stearman, would copy the civilian bounty-hunting enforcement scheme of Texas’ S.B. 8, which allows anyone to sue an abortion provider for up to $10,000 if they violate the law. H.B. 4327 goes even further than S.B. 8 by prohibiting any physician in the state from providing any abortions no matter how early into pregnancy, with virtually no exceptions.
While abortion remains legal in Oklahoma for now, this vote comes one week after the Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed five other anti-abortion bills — including six-week and 30-day abortion bans — in less than an hour.
Statement from Tamya Cox-Touré, Executive Director for the ACLU of Oklahoma
“Abortion is essential health care, and the ACLU of Oklahoma will never stop fighting for the right of all Oklahomans to make their own decisions about their bodies and their future — including the decision to have an abortion. But Oklahoma politicians are doubling down on their efforts to control people’s reproductive freedom and ban abortion this session.
“Laws like HB 4327, lead to real life consequences, that force people to carry pregnancies against their will or, if they have the means, flee the state to get an abortion. Make no mistake, the burden of pushing abortion out of reach falls hardest on people who already face systemic racism and discrimination in this country, including Black and Brown communities, people with disabilities, and 2SLGBTQ+ people, as well as people who are young, have low-incomes, or live in rural areas. Fighting these laws is essential to the fight for racial, economic, and gender justice.”
Statement Elisabeth Smith, Director of State Policy and Advocacy for the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“This bill poses an imminent and grave threat to abortion access in Oklahoma and across the region. Abortion rights activists have been warning of this nightmare for months: these bounty hunter laws will have a domino effect across the country, as more and more states ban abortion nearly entirely while Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land. In the six months since Texas Senate Bill 8 took effect, scores of Texans have sought abortion care in Oklahoma. Where will all of these patients, as well as pregnant people in Oklahoma, go now?”
Statement from Emily Wales, Interim CEO and President, Planned Parenthood Great Plains:
“There is only one goal with this bill, and the slate of bills being pushed by Oklahoma legislators this session: stop people from accessing abortion — by any means necessary. We know the devastating effects this ban will have because we have already seen an abortion access crisis unfold here in Oklahoma and across the region over the past six months. Every day since September 1, Texans have called our phones, sought care at our health centers, and asked us to do what their home state politicians refused: to recognize their right to make private medical decisions and access essential, constitutionally-protected care in their own communities. Oklahomans will be living the same nightmare if this ban takes effect. But we will not stop fighting for everyone to decide what is best for their bodies, their lives, and their futures.”
Statement from Rebecca Tong, Co-Executive Director, Trust Women
“Abortion bans do not reduce the need for abortion care: as we have seen for the last six months under Texas’ brutal SB 8 regime, abortion bans merely outsource abortion care to other states. Forcing people to travel for basic, essential healthcare they should be able to easily find in their own communities is cruel. Traveling for essential healthcare is not a solution that will result in healthy communities. Many pregnant people will not be able to travel and will be forced to carry pregnancies they do not want or cannot survive.
“The reckless cruelty is the point. Our phones have not stopped ringing since SB 8 took effect in September. If these bills become law, the situation on the ground will only worsen. We will continue to fight for the rights of Oklahomans to have access to the compassionate abortion care they deserve.”
PPGP: Anamarie Rebori Simmons, [email protected]
ACLU of OK: Cassidy Fallik, [email protected], 913-748-1278
Trust Women: Zack Gingrich-Gaylord, [email protected], 316-737-1300
Center for Reproductive Rights: [email protected]