Today, an Oklahoma state court became the first in the nation to uphold a law making it illegal for doctors to provide the standard method of abortion after approximately 14 weeks of pregnancy.
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 finding an identical ban in Alabama unconstitutional.
Bans on the procedure, known as a D&E abortion, have no medical justification. They threaten the safety of women, punish doctors for using their best medical judgment, and undermine the ability of health care professionals to provide individualized care that’s right for each patient.
Major mainstream medical experts like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose this type of ban, noting “these restrictions represent legislative interference at its worst: doctors will be forced, by ill-advised, unscientifically motivated policy, to provide lesser care to patients.”
Put simply, there are no medical reasons to ban this procedure, only political ones. The effort to ban abortion method-by-method is part of a larger national strategy to undermine the protections that are guaranteed by Roe v. Wade and have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in decision after decision for nearly half a century.
The Center for Reproductive Rights is exploring all available options to stop this law from going into effect and drastically reducing the ability of Oklahomans to access constitutionally protected abortion care.
There are only four health centers that provide abortion services in the entire state of Oklahoma. This law puts doctors and women in an impossible situation, forcing providers to either go against their best medical judgment, or forcing women to not have an abortion at all.
Oklahoma already imposes multiple barriers on access to abortion, including a mandatory 72-hour delay; a requirement that abortion patients receive biased, state-directed counseling; and limits on insurance coverage for abortion. Abortion restrictions have a disproportionate impact on those who already face barriers to health care, including those who live in rural areas, young people, or those 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.