Oklahoma Judiciary Acts on Reproductive Health Legislation, Highlighting Women’s Rights Advocacy

Oklahoma’s highest court has placed a temporary halt on three laws which restricted access to abortion, in another apparent win for abortion rights activists. Here’s the full story. 

Reproductive Rights Rollout

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The Oklahoma Supreme Court has temporarily halted three laws pertaining to abortion and abortion pills, possibly paving the way for a broader examination of abortion rights within the state’s constitution. 

Violating the Constitution

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Last October, reproductive rights groups initiated legal action against five bills from the state legislature, alleging that these laws, aimed at restricting and regulating abortion procedures, violated the due process clause of the Oklahoma Constitution. 

Temporary Injunction

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Initially, the Oklahoma County District Court imposed a temporary injunction against two of these laws but allowed three to remain in effect: House Bill 1904 and Senate Bills 778 and 779. 

However, in a 5-4 decision this Tuesday, the state’s highest court granted a temporary injunction on the remaining three pieces of legislation. 

Abortion Access and Availability

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One of these laws, Oklahoma HB 1904, mandates that any in-person clinic abortion procedure must be conducted by a board-certified OB-GYN.

Meanwhile, SB 778 dictates that abortion pills must be prescribed by an OB-GYN, and SB 779 requires the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy to monitor the manufacturing and distribution data of abortion pills. 

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

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In the majority opinion, Associate Justice Douglas Combs referenced the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, stating that overturning federal abortion rights would necessitate finding a “limited right to terminate a pregnancy deeply rooted in Oklahoma’s history and tradition.” 

Historical Prohibitions

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Combs noted that abortion had been prohibited in the state until the Roe v. Wade decision, with criminal statutes providing a limited exception for cases deemed “necessary to preserve [the mother’s] life.” 

Abortion Ban

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Since May 2022, abortion, with the exception of cases saving the mother’s life, has been entirely prohibited in Oklahoma following the unauthorized leak of the Dobbs decision. 

Rejection of an Outright Ban

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In November 2022, Oklahomans rejected a ballot initiative amendment explicitly denying a state constitutional right to abortion, creating a legal avenue to safeguard the procedure.

This rejection of an outright ban was similar to many others instituted throughout the country more recently.

Trying to Save the Wrong Lives

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Abortion rights advocates in Oklahoma point out the state’s alarming maternal death rates, ranking among the highest in the United States at 47.5 maternal deaths per 100,000—14.5 deaths higher than the national average. 

Planned Parenthood

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The legal challenge against the anti-abortion access legislation was initially brought by Planned Parenthood Great Plains, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the Tulsa Women’s Clinic. 

Ongoing Battle

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The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s recent decision to temporarily block three abortion-related laws underscores the ongoing legal battle over reproductive rights within the state. 

Serious Consequences

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As the court considers the implications of these laws in relation to the Oklahoma Constitution, the debate over abortion rights continues to unfold, with potentially serious consequences for women’s access to reproductive healthcare in the state.

Positive Reaction

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Online, the news was met with mostly positive responses, which is matched by offline polling showing wide-reaching support for access to safe, effective, and legal abortion throughout the United States. 

So Much for Less Intrusive

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One user commented on the Republican stance on abortion, stating, “I always heard Republicans were the party of law and order, less intrusive government. However, it seems they want to control every element of your lives and those of your children.”

A Win for Reproductive Rights

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One commenter said, “Even in the Republican stronghold of Oklahoma people want to be able to make their own choices instead of being forced to live according to someone else’s prejudices.”

Another widely shared post stated simply, “Good, another win for women’s reproductive rights.”

The post Oklahoma Judiciary Acts on Reproductive Health Legislation, Highlighting Women’s Rights Advocacy first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / rawf8. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.

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