On November 4, the Oklahoma Supreme Court granted an emergency request to block the state’s ban on the standard method of abortion after approximately 14 weeks of pregnancy. The Center for Reproductive Rights asked the state’s high court to step in after an Oklahoma state trial court upheld the ban earlier this year, becoming the first court in the country to uphold such a law. The ban was passed in 2015 and has never gone into effect.

“Today’s decision means Oklahomans can continue receiving high-quality, evidence-based abortion care,” said Autumn Katz, Senior Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights and lead counsel on this case. “Under this law, doctors would be subject to criminal penalties for providing abortions consistent with the standard of care. This ban was motivated by politics, not medicine, and the Oklahoma Supreme Court recognized that today.”

Doctors who violate the ban could face up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Major medical organizations, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) oppose these types of bans, 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. This is unacceptable.”

Similar bans have been struck down in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, and Texas. Just this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a federal appellate court’s decision finding an identical ban in Alabama unconstitutional.

Only four health centers provide abortion services in Oklahoma. In addition to the laws challenged in this suit, Oklahoma has passed many other abortion restrictions, including: laws requiring parental involvement for minors; a ban on the use of telemedicine to prescribe pills for medication abortion; a mandatory 72-hour delay; and restrictions on when private, public, and state health insurance plans can cover abortion care. The Center is currently challenging another Oklahoma law that forces doctors to inform patients without any medical basis that medication abortion can be “reversed.” The law was temporarily blocked late last month.

The case was filed in 2015 by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Walding & Patton PLLC on behalf of Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic.

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E-mail lindsey.chastain@skiatookjournal.com

Managing Editor

Lindsey is the managing editor for the Skiatook Journal. She holds an M.A in English from the University of Central Oklahoma. Prior to the start of her news career in 2011, Renuard was a professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma.