10.25.2021 – (PRESS RELEASE) Today, the Oklahoma state Supreme Court blocked three extreme abortion restrictions that were scheduled to take effect November 1 and threatened to devastate abortion access in the state. Today’s ruling means the laws will remain blocked while the case continues.
The abortion restrictions blocked today include:
- A law that would have forced over half of the abortion providers in Oklahoma to stop providing abortions. This law arbitrarily disqualifies highly trained health care providers like board-certified family medicine doctors from providing abortion because they are not board-certified OB/GYNs.
- Two laws that contain a host of restrictions on medication abortion, including an admitting privileges requirement similar to requirements struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and an ultrasound requirement more restrictive than an ultrasound law already struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. These laws would require patients to make two separate trips to a healthcare provider at least 72-hours apart and impose other requirements that would subject patients to significant delays in care.
“The Oklahoma Supreme Court recognized that these laws would cause irreparable harm to Oklahomans,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “All of these laws have the same goal: to make it harder to get an abortion in Oklahoma. We will continue to fight in court to ensure these laws are struck down for good. Politicians should not be meddling in the private health decisions of Oklahomans.”
“What a relief, to have these potentially devastating laws blocked from taking effect next week,” said Tamya Cox, Co-Chair of Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice. “Pregnant people in Oklahoma, particularly Black and brown people, already need to jump through seemingly endless hoops to access health care. These restrictions would have pushed abortion out of reach entirely for many.”
“The court’s decision today comes as a huge relief,” said Dr. Alan Braid, owner of Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic. “Texas has shown us the heartbreaking consequences of what happens when a state bans abortion. Even Oklahomans are suffering from the Texas ban, which has created backlogs of patients here and in other surrounding states.”
“Today, the state Supreme Court did precisely what the legal system is designed to do: block unconstitutional laws and ensure that our patients will be able to get the health care they deserve,” said Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains. “Today’s decision means that our abortion providers, many of whom are highly-trained family medicine physicians, will be able to keep serving Oklahomans — and all people who turn to us for essential health care when abortion is inaccessible in their states. But this fight is not over: Oklahomans still must contend with numerous barriers to essential reproductive health care. We will continue fighting for them in every way possible.”
“The Oklahoma Supreme Court rightly stepped in to block these medically unnecessary and blatantly unconstitutional abortion restrictions,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “We have seen the harm that abortion restrictions create, especially for Black and Brown communities who already face systemic barriers to accessing care. Planned Parenthood is fighting for a world where abortion access doesn’t depend on your zip code or income, and will always stand with the patients who turn to our health centers for essential care.”
Today’s ruling comes three weeks after a lower court blocked two abortion bans that were also set to take effect November 1 but refused to halt the three remaining laws. The bans blocked by the lower court include a total abortion ban, which suspends the licenses of physicians who provide abortion care, and a law banning abortion as early as approximately six weeks into pregnancy, before many people even know they are pregnant. The state conceded that these laws are unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade.
The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Dechert LLP, and Blake Patton on behalf of the Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice, Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic, Dr. Alan Braid, Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, and Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma.
This decision comes almost two months after Texas’s six-week abortion ban took effect and eliminated the vast majority of abortion access in the state (a separate case filed by the Department of Justice temporarily blocked the law at the beginning of October, but the injunction was quickly blocked by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals). Clinics in Oklahoma have reported huge increases in patients traveling from Texas to access care. For instance, an Oklahoma clinic reported that two-thirds of the phone calls they receive are now from Texas patients.
Planned Parenthood: [email protected], 212-261-4433
Center for Reproductive Rights: [email protected]