Tuesday marked a victory for reproductive rights in the state of Oklahoma, as the Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously voted to permanently block an anti-abortion law with numerous provisions, finding it in violation of the state constitution’s “single-subject rule” that restricts every bill before the legislature to one subject.
Judge Joseph Watt issued a statement on behalf of the court, stating, “We reject defendants’ arguments and find this legislation violates the single subject rule as each of these sections is so unrelated and misleading that a legislator voting on this matter could have been left with an unpalatable all-or-nothing choice.”
Additionally, four of the judges added that they would have also struck down the law as an unconstitutional burden to abortion access. Watt expanded on the statement, “What other areas of the medical profession have such far reaching requirements?”
SB 642, passed in 2015, instituted felony punishments for abortion providers if they were found to be in violation of even minor state regulations. The law also threatened criminal charges for any individual who helped a minor access abortion without parental consent, required that doctors collect fetal tissue from patients under the age of 14, and permitted unwarranted searches of clinics by state health regulators.
Oklahoma does not have the best track record for reproductive healthcare access. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 48 of the state’s 77 counties did not have a single OB-GYN in 2014. The number of OB-GYNs per 10,000 women in Oklahoma is nearly a third less than the national average. In addition, the Governor has signed into law 20 anti-abortion bills in the last six years, with measures ranging from a 72 hour waiting period to a ban on telemedicine for administering medication abortion.
But last month, Trust Women South Wind Women’s Center faced down countless bureaucratic barriers and anti-abortion extremist opposition to open a new clinic in Oklahoma City, previously the largest metropolitan area in the country without an abortion provider. The Feminist Majority Foundation is helping Trust Women South Wind raise funds to install an adequate security system for the clinic, as anti-abortion extremists have spent months intimidating the doctors inf front of the clinic and their homes with threatening “WANTED” style posters. Please consider making a contribution, because without clinics there is no choice.