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In response to the latest anti-abortion bills that were proposed during last weeks’ Legislative sessions, Oklahoma reproductive rights advocates took a unified stance against the legislation in a press conference on Tuesday, February 15.

Tamya Cox-Toure’ serves as Executive Director of the Oklahoma ACLU chapter. She provided an overview of the 20 extreme anti-abortion bills that threaten the reproductive health rights of women in Oklahoma and surrounding states during Tuesday morning’s press conference. 

“None of these laws are pro-family.” Ms. Cox – Toure’ began, we know all abortion restrictions are inherently racist, affecting Black and brown bodies the most. Oklahoma deserves better, and the Oklahoma legislation should be better than these white supremacy ideals that the they continue to uphold.” 

oklahom anti abortion bill jim olsen
Oklahoma state Rep. Jim Olsen (Republican) claimed abortion is worse than slavery during debate on an abortion bill in the Oklahoma legislature. / Screenshot.

“Without access, there is no real choice.”

Ms. Cox-Toure’ was accompanied by Trust Women co-executive director, Rebecca Tong, and CEO of Planned Parenthood Emily Wales. The press conference called attention to the “harsh bans and other bills that seek to dehumanize and shame those seeking abortion.”

Ultimately, it called out what’s at stake for Oklahomans and those in surrounding regions.

“I’m incredibly saddened by what the Oklahoma legislation is trying to do. Oklahomans deserve better and it’s time for legislation to do better.” States Ms. Tong. “Texas Senate Bill was a shock to an already fragile system. And we are now seeing so many women traveling hundreds of miles to get basic care.”

Even in major cities, access to abortion is hard to find. Private practices often face violence from anti-abortion bills. Ms. Cox Toure shared that since 2016, over 100 providers have shut down their doors. “Without access, there is no real choice.  Oklahoma has a population of over 4 million people, and there are only 4 clinics that provide abortion care.” 

Reproductive rights under threat

As we wait for the Supreme Court to determine the future of Roe v. Wade, which cemented the protection of a woman’s rights to abortion access up to 24 weeks in 1973, states across the country are continuing to introduce anti-abortion bills.

A total of 29 states have started filling bills that would limit abortion access at the beginning of the year. Tuesday’s press conference was organized in response to 11 Oklahoma anti-abortion bills. They were pre-filled before the 2022 legislative sessions even began. The most recent and radical of them, filed by George Burns (R) on February 10 , aims to create a government database that tracks all women who seek abortion services for seven years. In the seven-page bill, Burns states his ultimate goal is to end abortions in the state.

“Oklahoma has always attempted to take away reproductive rights, but Oklahomans have always fought back.” Cox – Toure’ stated. “Oklahoma is really vital to abortion services within their health care facilities, and we will fight at the Capitol against all of the anti-abortion bills.”