State Supreme Court declines to block 6-week abortion ban

by Erika DuBose
State Supreme Court declines to block 6-week abortion ban
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The Oklahoma Supreme Court declined to block a restrictive new abortion bill, one that limits reproductive rights for women across the state. SB 1503 prohibits Oklahoma healthcare workers from providing abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected (roughly after 6 weeks), with felony charges and fines if the law is broken.

Additionally, SB 1503 empowers citizens to search for those who assist people in procuring an abortion, and turn them in. Modeled after Texas’ SB 8, Oklahomans are effectively bounty hunters for limiting reproductive rights. 

Under SB 1503, any citizen can sue an abortion provider, a healthcare worker, or anyone who assists someone in obtaining an abortion. Such a citizen would “win” a $10,000 reward for ensuring a woman has no bodily autonomy. 

Black women and their families are disproportionately affected by bills restricting reproductive rights.

More women of Color live in low-income communities, which are often healthcare deserts, places with limited access to healthcare providers or comprehensive reproductive education. Additionally, limited access to healthcare means that Black women are limited in their opportunities to obtain effective birth control.

Reproductive rights advocates sue, Oklahoma Supreme Court declines immediate relief

Historically, systemic racism has also hindered Black families’ access to financial resources that are required to obtain an abortion. In most circumstances, neither Medicaid nor Medicare cover abortion, creating a financial burden on women seeking to maintain their reproductive rights.

Meanwhile, abortion rights advocates have sued to block SB 1503 from becoming law, with the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood as plaintiffs. However, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has yet to decide if it will hear the case.

This means SB 1503 is currently law, effectively banning abortions for women across the state – and those from states such as Texas, who traveled to Oklahoma for abortion access. 

 According to Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, “The impact of this ban will reverberate far beyond Oklahoma. Many Texans have been fleeing to Oklahoma for abortion services and may now be out of options.”

“We are disappointed that the Oklahoma Supreme Court did not step in to block this radical and unconstitutional law before it took effect, and we hope that we will ultimately be able to block it,” Ms. Northrup continued. “We will keep fighting to get this law blocked—this is not over.”

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