03.10.2022 – (PRESS RELEASE) Today, the Oklahoma Senate approved six bills that, if enacted, will decimate abortion access in the region. The bills passed today include:
- S.B. 1503, a Texas-style six-week abortion ban that would take effect immediately after the governor signs it into law, eliminating virtually all abortion services in the state;
- S.B. 1553, a ban on abortion 30 days after a person’s last menstrual period, before many people know they are pregnant;
- S.B. 1555, a modification of the state’s trigger ban that would allow pre-Roe v. Wade statutes to take effect if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, even in part, and provides that the state could enforce a total ban;
- S.J.R. 37, a constitutional amendment that would eliminate any right to abortion in Oklahoma;
- S.J.R. 17, a constitutional amendment that would confer full personhood — and the rights that come with it — from conception;
- S.B. 1552, a bill funding fake clinics that lie to people seeking abortion.
Oklahoma is now the second state this session, after Idaho, to vote a six-week abortion ban modeled after Texas’s S.B. 8 out of a full chamber. The ban would allow private individuals to enforce the law by suing anyone — including abortion providers, health center staff, and practical support organizations — who helps an Oklahoman obtain an abortion in the state. The bills now move to the House for consideration.
Oklahoma has long been a keystone in the Midwest’s abortion access network — but never more so than now. Oklahoma has been a lifeline for Texans seeking abortion after the state passed its near-total abortion ban. Since that ban took effect more than six months ago, some Oklahoma abortion providers have seen a nearly 2,500% increase in patients from Texas. Nearly half of all Texans who obtained an abortion out-of-state in the last six months traveled to Oklahoma.
If even one of these abortion bans take effect, access will be cut off for millions of people, including more than 900,000 Oklahoma women of reproductive age — plus more Oklahomans who can become pregnant. Abortion patients will be forced to travel even further distances for health care that they should be able to receive in their own communities. For many Oklahomans who already face barriers to health care due to systemic racism and discrimination — especially Black, Latino, or Indigenous people; LGBTQ+ people; those who live in rural communities; or who have low incomes — abortion could be pushed out of reach entirely, with devastating consequences for their long-term health and well-being.
With no public testimony, the Oklahoma legislature is moving forward a dangerous slate of bills that harm people, their families, and their communities. These attacks on Oklahomans’ constitutional rights and health care cannot go unanswered. In the coming weeks, advocates will call on supporters of abortion rights to come to Oklahoma City for a day of action at the Capitol.
Statement from Emily Wales, interim president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Great Plains:
“For six months, Oklahoma has been the central point of refuge for countless people forced to flee Texas for care. We have seen firsthand the devastation caused when lawmakers put politics before patients’ rights. We’ve seen it in the faces of people who have traveled hundreds of miles, taken unpaid time off work, scrambled to find childcare, and often arrived alone, fearing that sharing with family and friends could put those individuals at risk under the law. Sadly, today the Senate moved one step closer to putting Oklahomans in the very same position. While self-proclaimed freedom-fighting politicians strip Oklahomans of the rights their neighbors enjoy, Planned Parenthood health centers will keep their doors open and provide care to all.”
Statement from Tamya Cox-Touré, executive director, ACLU of Oklahoma:
“Oklahomans deserve access to abortion, without obstacles, stigma, or harassment, but local politicians are emboldened after witnessing the ongoing attacks across the country to time-sensitive, compassionate health care. Make no mistake, our state is at a crisis point in the fight to protect abortion. Forcing people to continue a pregnancy by taking away their ability to get an abortion is dangerous and a violation of their rights. It is an attack on human dignity. At every point in a pregnancy, a person’s health, not politics, should drive their medical decisions. The ACLU of Oklahoma recognizes the ability to get an abortion is critical to gender equality, 2SLGBTQ+ justice, and racial equity, and we will continue to fight to protect access to abortion to ensure every person can get the care they need without political obstacles.”
Statement from Rebecca Tong, co-executive director, Trust Women:
“Anti-abortion lawmakers in Oklahoma today signaled their approval of the tragedy created by Texas’s S.B. 8 dystopia. This is madness. Oklahoma already has among the worst maternal health outcomes in the country, as well as one of the highest rates of incarceration of pregnant people in the country. If the framers of this cruel legislation were truly interested in health, justice, or compassion, they would work to ensure that all people had access in their own communities to essential reproductive health care, including abortions.”
Statement from Elisabeth Smith, director of state policy and advocacy, Center for Reproductive Rights:
“These bills pose an imminent and grave threat to abortion access in Oklahoma and across the region. For months, scores of Texans have sought abortion care in Oklahoma, in addition to pregnant people in Oklahoma. Abortion rights activists have been warning of this nightmare for months: These abortion restrictions will have a domino effect across the country and have the potential to push abortion access out of reach for an entire region.”
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund
“We’re no strangers to abortion being under attack in Oklahoma, but now, the stakes are higher than ever. We’ve already seen the devastating effects of a near-total abortion ban in Texas — and many patients have relied on Oklahoma abortion providers for care they could not get in Texas. Lawmakers in Oklahoma are now dead-set on eliminating abortion access and forcing their own constituents to travel for care they should be able to receive in their own communities. But we will not let them take our right to decide what is best for our bodies, our lives, and our futures without a fight. Planned Parenthood Action Fund and our partners will make our voices heard at the Capitol and beyond until these bans are history.”
Statement from Jessica Arons, senior policy counsel, ACLU:
“For six long months, we have watched Texans suffering from the nation’s most extreme abortion ban. Some have been able to find the resources to make the expensive trip to states like Oklahoma for this essential health care, but too many others have been forced to continue to carry pregnancies against their will. Now, Oklahoma politicians want to interfere with our most personal decisions and inflict that same harm on countless others who rely on the ability to get abortion care in the state. Though other states are also pushing to ban abortion this year, Oklahoma is leading the pack in passing this flurry of draconian bills aimed at taking away our fundamental rights. We’ll continue doing everything in our power to stop these bans and every policy that blocks people from getting the health care they need.”
ACLU of OK: Cassidy Fallik, [email protected], 913-748-1278
ACLU: Andrew Everett, [email protected]
Trust Women: Zack Gingrich-Gaylord, [email protected], 316-737-1300
Center for Reproductive Rights: [email protected]
Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice: [email protected]