The Corner

Law & the Courts

Oklahoma Supreme Court Blocks Three Pro-Life Laws Aimed at Protecting Women

Demonstrators at a Planned Parenthood rally at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, April 5, 2017. (Ilana Panich-Linsman/Reuters)

In a 5–3 vote, the Oklahoma supreme court has issued a temporary injunction blocking three pro-life laws slated to take effect on November 1. Earlier in October, a district judge blocked two other pro-life laws in Oklahoma from taking effect but allowed these three to remain in place, sending the case up to the state supreme court.

Two of those laws would have established a series of requirements around chemical-abortion drugs, the most common abortion method in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. Among other provisions, the laws required doctors to obtain informed consent from women, outline the risks and possible complications of chemical-abortion drugs, and notify women of a safe, effective method that might enable them to halt and reverse an unwanted abortion.

The third law would have required all doctors who perform abortions in Oklahoma to have board certification in obstetrics and gynecology, a relatively uncommon policy aimed at making it easier for women to obtain follow-up care if they experience abortion complications.

Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights — one of several abortion-advocacy groups that challenged the Oklahoma laws — said in a statement after the ruling that the policies would have caused “irreparable harm to Oklahomans” and had the goal of “making it harder to get an abortion in Oklahoma.”

But Dr. Christina Francis, board chairman of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told National Review that opposition to these new regulations is “a pure attack on the safety of medical care being delivered to women.”

“They’re not making it easier for women to obtain abortions,” she added. “They’re making it more dangerous for women to obtain abortions.”

None of the policies in question prohibited abortion at any stage. All of the provisions in these three laws were aimed at abortionists, requiring them to follow a set of policies that would minimize the risks to women of obtaining an abortion. It’s telling that abortion providers and advocacy groups, rather than women, were the ones challenging Oklahoma — and their win in court was a victory for abortionists, not for women.

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