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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law H.B. 4327, a citizen-enforced total ban on abortion that took effect yesterday immediately upon signature. Oklahoma is now the only state in the United States to successfully outlaw abortion while Roe v. Wade still stands. A coalition of Oklahoma abortion providers and a reproductive justice organization will imminently file a challenge to the ban and seek to block it in court.
All abortions after approximately six weeks of pregnancy were already banned in Oklahoma under S.B. 1503 — another citizen-enforced abortion ban signed by Gov. Stitt earlier this month. Plaintiffs will ask for their challenge to H.B. 4327 to be added to the plaintiffs’ existing case against S.B. 1503, which is currently pending before the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Plaintiffs are still waiting on a ruling from the court to determine if S.B. 1503 will be blocked. Although federal challenges to Texas’s similar ban have been unsuccessful in blocking the law, there is significant precedent in Oklahoma state court to support plaintiffs’ arguments for relief preventing these bans from staying in effect.
On the day following S.B. 1503’s implementation, Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic was forced to cancel 35 appointments and send home from the clinic ten patients whose pregnancies were too advanced for the clinic to provide care in compliance with S.B. 1503. Since then, providers across the state have been severely limited in the services they can provide. H.B. 4327 eliminates these services entirely.
“We are seeing the beginning of a domino effect that will spread across the entire South and Midwest if Roe falls,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Banning abortion after six weeks was not extreme enough for Oklahoma lawmakers. The goal of the anti-abortion movement is to ensure no one can access abortion at any point for any reason. Right now, patients in Oklahoma are being thrown into a state of chaos and fear. That chaos will only intensify as surrounding states cut off access as well. We will not stop fighting for the people of Oklahoma and for everyone across the country. We all deserve the freedom to control our own bodies and lives.”
“Instead of working to make communities safer, Oklahoma politicians have made it their priority to outlaw abortion, even while Roe stands,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The cruelty of this law and this crisis cannot be overstated. At a time when communities are facing senseless tragedies and immeasurable grief, politicians have opted to use their position and power to instill more fear — all while taking away people’s right to decide what is best for their own bodies, lives, and futures at every turn. For anyone seeking abortion in Oklahoma and beyond: Planned Parenthood and our partners are fighting for you. We will bring everything we have to make sure you can get the care you need, and challenge every ban enacted in Oklahoma.”
“Ultimately, who will be prevented from having an abortion under this ban? The people who don’t have the funds or resources to travel out of state,” said Tamya Cox–Touré, co-chair, Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice. “Abortion bans are systemic discrimination at work. We won’t stop fighting for Oklahomans, especially those who face often insurmountable barriers to accessing abortion: Black people, people of color, people who live in rural areas, and people struggling to make ends meet.”
“It wasn’t enough to ban abortion before many people even know they are pregnant?” said Dr. Alan Braid, owner, Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic. “I have watched over the last nine months as abortion access has dwindled to all but a trickle in both of the states that I provide abortion in. I’m not giving up on Oklahoma.”
“Oklahoma’s politicians, from the governor on down, are determined to strip rights from anyone who could become pregnant,” said Emily Wales, interim president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Great Plains. “This is no surprise in a state that has consistently ranked among the worst in the nation for maternal mortality and child health outcomes. Today, for the first time in nearly 50 years, abortion is illegal – at every stage of pregnancy – in an American state. People who can become pregnant now have fewer rights and fewer protections in Oklahoma than in any other state in the union. Legislators who, in overwhelming numbers, cannot become pregnant have just made lesser citizens of those who can.”
H.B. 4327 creates a bounty-hunting scheme similar to Texas’s S.B. 8, which encourages the general public to bring costly and harassing lawsuits against abortion providers, health center workers, or any person who helps someone access an abortion. Those who successfully sue would be rewarded with at least $10,000 per abortion. Its effects will be felt far beyond Oklahoma: Since Texas’s abortion ban took effect in September, Oklahoma has been a key access point — with Planned Parenthood Great Plains’ two Oklahoma health centers reporting a nearly 2500% increase in Texas patients in the first four months of the ban. Now, patients from both states are being pushed even further outside of their communities for essential health care.
The Oklahoma state legislature has passed several other abortion restrictions this year, including a modification of the state’s “trigger” ban and a law (S.B. 612) that would ban abortion entirely in Oklahoma through criminal penalties. S.B. 612 was signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt on April 12 and would make providing an abortion a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine. The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood challenged S.B. 612 on the same day they challenged S.B. 1503 and have requested S.B. 612 be blocked before it can take effect later this summer.
Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice v. Oklahoma was filed in Oklahoma Supreme Court against the State of Oklahoma and all 77 state court clerks. The plaintiffs – Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice, Dr. Alan Braid, Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic, Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, and Planned Parenthood of Arkansas & Eastern Oklahoma – are represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Blake Patton.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.