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Oklahoma Supreme Court maintains temporary ban on anti-abortion laws pending lawsuit

 Protestors stand outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in October 2021.
Gayatri Malhotra
Protestors stand outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in October 2021.

A 5-4 majority ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court said three laws related to abortion should be put on hold pending legal challenges.

The ruling is based on the following three laws:

  • HB 1904, authored by Rep. Cynthia Roe (R-Lindsay) and Sen. Jessica Garvin (R-Duncan), requires physicians performing an abortion to be board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology. 
  • SB 778, authored by Sen. Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville) and Rep. Mark Lepak (R-Claremore), requires an ultrasound be performed at least 72 hours before providing an abortion-inducing drug. 
  • SB 779, authored by Sen. Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville) and Rep. Mark Lepak (R-Claremore), requires a physician certified to provide an abortion-inducing drug to either have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital where the abortion-inducing drug was administered or have a written agreement with an associated physician in that location. 

It orders the Oklahoma County District Court to keep a temporary ban on the laws in place while a lawsuit works its way through the courts.

The 2021 suit was brought by the Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice, Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma, and three other plaintiffs. It covers five abortion laws, and the remaining two were blocked by the lower court in 2021.

Tuesday’s decision is in line with the court's position that the state constitution guarantees a woman’s right to an abortion when necessary to preserve her life.

Oklahoma statutes define medical emergencies as such:

“A condition which cannot be remedied by the delivery of the child in which an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness or physical injury including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond’s office said it’s reviewing the court’s decision and will respond accordingly.

House of Representatives Democratic Leader Cyndi Munson (D-Oklahoma City) wrote in a statement Tuesday, she is pleased to hear the court’s decision.

“These are the issues we should be addressing, and hopefully with the Court's decision today, we finally will,” Munson wrote. “It is a good day for women's health care and our medical community.”

Abortion is still mostly illegal in Oklahoma, as anyone can be charged with a felony and face up to five years in prison if they help a woman terminate a pregnancy except to save her life.

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Jillian Taylor has been StateImpact Oklahoma's health reporter since August 2023.
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