Oklahoma Court Goes Rogue, Upholds Abortion Ban

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Judge says doctors can no longer use a safe and standard abortion method
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(Press Release) Today, the Oklahoma district court became the first court in the country to uphold a ban on the standard method of ending a pregnancy after approximately 14 weeks. Judge Cindy Truong ruled from the bench, denying the Center for Reproductive Rights' request to strike down the law, which has been enjoined since 2015.

"We cannot overstate the harm this decision will have on women in Oklahoma,” said Julie Rikelman, Litigation Director at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Politicians should never take medical options off the table for pregnant patients. This law bans care that women need and doctors recommend and is part of a national strategy by anti-abortion politicians to push abortion care out of reach by passing hundreds of laws that limit access. We will keep fighting this unconstitutional ban to make sure Oklahomans have access to the best medical treatment.”

Every other court that has reviewed similar bans has blocked them from taking effect, including in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky and Texas. Just last month, the Supreme Court let stand a lower court’s decision, which found an identical ban in Alabama unconstitutional. Major medical organizations, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) oppose these types of bans, writing “these restrictions represent legislative interference at its worst: doctors will be forced, by ill-advised, unscientifically motivated policy, to provide lesser care to patients. This is unacceptable.”

In December of 2018, the same court denied the Center’s request to block another Oklahoma measure forcing patients to delay their abortion for at least 72 hours after receiving state-mandated counseling. Oklahoma is one of five states across the country to implement such an extreme waiting period.

Only four health centers provide abortion services in the entire state of Oklahoma. In addition to the 72-hour mandatory delay, Oklahoma has passed many other laws restricting abortion access, including: a parental consent requirement for minors; a ban on the use of telemedicine to prescribe pills for medication abortion; and restrictions on when private, public, and state health insurance plans can cover abortion services. These laws disproportionately affect populations that already experience barriers to health care, including people of color, immigrants and people with low incomes.

This case was filed by Autumn Katz, Leah Wiederhorn, and Rabia Muqaddam of the Center for Reproductive Rights and Blake Patton of Walding & Patton on behalf of Tulsa Women’s Clinic—a Tulsa reproductive health provider with more than 40 years of experience providing safe and legal abortion to Oklahoma women.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Kelly Krause, kkrause@reprorights.org; 917-637-3649