Reproductive rights supporters challenge two Oklahoma anti-abortion bills
Abortion-rights activists protested against Mississippi’s six-week abortion ban outside the Mississippi Capitol building in May 2019. Photo by Ashton Pittman
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Oklahoma’s new bills restricting women’s reproductive rights are being challenged in court. A group of women’s rights organizers and supporters have filed to stop two Oklahoma anti-abortion bills

SB 612 makes providing an abortion a felony, while SB 1503 bans abortion after 30 days. Furthermore, SB 612 includes jail time and fines of up to $10,000 for women’s healthcare providers who support a woman’s autonomy.

The lawsuit challenging SB 612 was added to previous filings against Oklahoma abortion restrictions from 2021.

Meanwhile, if passed, SB 1503 would be the most restrictive women’s right bill in the country. Modeled after Texas’ 6-week abortion ban, Oklahoma Governor Stitt has vowed to sign the bill into law immediately. 

Unsurprisingly, Black women face the greatest burden of most anti-abortion laws. Women of Color are five times more likely to have an abortion than White women.

According to Kamyon Conner, executive director of Texas Equal Access (TEA) Fund, a reproductive justice nonprofit, “States that enact restrictions on abortion access are not interested in supporting families, but rather in controlling the reproductive lives of women and birthing people—especially Black women and other people of color.”

Regulating Black women’s bodies, a racist legacy

Black women are more likely to live in healthcare deserts than their White counterparts. In such areas, access to reproductive healthcare is limited. Black women are also less likely to receive comprehensive sexual education, leading to greater risk of unplanned pregnancy. 

In fact, oppressing Black women’s bodies has gone on for hundreds of years. Black women who were enslaved were often raped and forced to carry pregnancies to term. 

Meanwhile, Oklahoma politicians seemingly want to return to a time when all women’s bodies are strictly regulated. According to Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, “To limit a person’s freedom and autonomy is unconscionable and unconstitutional. Unless these abortion bans are stopped, Oklahomans will be robbed of the freedom to control their own bodies and futures.”

Lawsuits filed against anti-abortion bills

The challenges to Oklahoma’s bills rest on the constitutionality of the legislation. According to Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, “We are asking the state courts to uphold the State Constitution and apply Oklahoma precedent to block these insidious abortion bans before they take effect.”

The challenge to S.B. 1503 was filed in Oklahoma Supreme Court against the State of Oklahoma and all 77 state court clerks. The plaintiffs – Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice, Dr. Alan Braid, Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic, Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, and Planned Parenthood of Arkansas & Eastern Oklahoma – are represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Blake Patton.

The new challenge to S.B. 612 was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Dechert LLP, and Blake Patton on behalf of the Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice, Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic, Dr. Alan Braid, Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, and Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma. 

“While we are fighting in the court to protect our rights, we are pleading with Congress to codify Roe-that is the best way we can protect abortion access in half our states,” ACLU Executive Director Tamya Cox-Touré wrote on Twitter.

To learn more about the restrictions on women’s rights in Oklahoma, and how to fight against these anti-abortion bills, go to the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood Great Plains

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...