The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a measure (SB 1552) yesterday which bans abortion by making it a felony for any person to perform or induce an abortion. The bill contains no exceptions for the woman’s life or health and would strip physicians who provide abortion care of their medical licenses. The bill now heads back to the Oklahoma Senate to approve changes made by the House before it heads to Governor Fallin’s desk.
Said Amanda Allen, Senior State Legislative Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Oklahoma politicians have made it their mission year after year to restrict women’s access to vital health care services, yet this total ban on abortion is a new low. When abortion is illegal, women and their health, futures, and families suffer.
“The Center for Reproductive Rights is closely watching this bill and we strongly urge Governor Fallin to reject this cruel and unconstitutional ban.”
There are only two providers of safe and legal abortion in Oklahoma and women in the state face myriad obstacles when attempting to access reproductive health care. In fact, the Center for Reproductive Rights has challenged unconstitutional restrictions on reproductive health care in Oklahoma eight times in five years, including a measure which forces women to delay constitutionally protected health care by at least 72 hours and a ban on the most common method of second trimester abortion. A state court judge blocked the ban in 2015, but allowed the waiting period to take effect. The Center is also challenging the state’s Texas-style clinic shutdown law and the state’s most recently passed restrictions on medication abortion.
The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held—first in Roe v. Wade and again most recently in Planned Parenthood v. Casey—that women have a constitutional right to decide whether to end or continue a pregnancy and states cannot ban abortion prior to viability. When these bans are challenged in court, they do not pass constitutional muster. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court refused to review North Dakota’s ban on abortion as early as 6 weeks of pregnancy and Arkansas’ ban on abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy, in 2014, the nation’s highest court refused to review Arizona’s ban on abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy.