The Center for Reproductive Rights has vowed to take an Oklahoma abortion-ban to the state Supreme Court after an Oklahoma district judge upheld a law banning second-trimester abortion procedures last Friday. The Oklahoma Supreme Court has previously rejected multiple anti-abortion bills similar to this ban.
The Center for Reproductive Rights challenged the Oklahoma law after it was first passed in 2015. The legislation prohibits the use of common instruments employed in second-trimester abortions, effectively banning the procedure entirely. It has been kept on hold for the past four years as the legal challenge went through the court system. Julie Rikelman, director of litigation for the Center for Reproductive Rights described the bill as a “back-door ban on abortion itself,” explaining how the procedure is “the standard of care for abortion after approximately 14 weeks.”
Multiple other states have attempted to pass similar laws; however, the Oklahoma judge is the first one to not block the ban. Laws in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, and Texas that have issued a ban on the same procedure have all been blocked due to the Supreme Court precedent that stops states from placing an undue burden on any individual seeking an abortion within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The Oklahoma ruling comes amidst a surge of anti-choice legislation within the Oklahoma state legislature. This past February, lawmakers advanced two bills through committee that restrict an individual’s access to reproductive care. One requires doctors to inform women who have decided to have a drug-induced abortion that the procedure is reversible. Pro-choice advocates have argued that this can negatively affect doctor-patient relationships and promote a policy that has not been proven to be medically safe.
The second law states that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, Oklahoma will automatically ban abortions and make the procedure a felony. Similar legislation has been passed nationwide as the threat to Roe increases. These laws are often referred to as trigger bans as they are automatically “triggered” if Roe is overturned. Oklahoma is already one of the 19 states with laws that could restrict the legality of abortion. If this ban passes, it would become the ninth state to implement a trigger ban. In 2019 only, over 250 restrictive abortion bills have been introduced in state legislatures. Several states such as Kentucky and Mississippi have attempted to pass “heartbeat bills,” which would ban abortions as soon as the sixth week of pregnancy before most women even know they are pregnant.
Media Resources: KOSU 2/26/19; Feminist Newswire 4/3/19; Guttmacher Institute 7/1/19; Washington Post 7/12/19; Vice 7/12/19