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The ACLU of Oklahoma vows to fight Oklahoma’s new total abortion ban. According to Tamya Cox-Toure, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, “No one should be forced to carry a pregnancy against their will and face the life-altering consequences of being denied this essential health care.”
And make no mistake, abortion is essential health care. In fact, when safe abortion is restricted, maternal mortality rates actually increase, along with pregnancy-related complications and infant mortality.
According to Amnesty International, for every dollar spent on preventative reproductive healthcare, the cost of pregnancy-related care is reduced by over $2.20. By providing comprehensive healthcare – rather than banning abortions – Oklahoma could increase positive health-related outcomes for families.
Oklahoma pregnancies risky
Yet Oklahoma legislators care less about the health of families in the states than banning abortion. Rather than focus on providing preventative reproductive health care, subsidized child care, or paid maternity and/or paternity leave, the state aims to police pregnant people.
According to Cox-Toure, “Over the last several months, Oklahoma politicians have gone to extremes during an election year, playing partisan politics by taking away our community’s control over if and when to have a child. We see the devastation of banning abortion play out in Texas, where many people have been forced to flee their state in search of reproductive health care or denied the care they need entirely. This nightmare has now become a reality in Oklahoma.”
In fact, since Texas passed their restrictive abortion bill, abortions in Oklahoma have increased, as women in Texas have sought care in other states. Now, patients in Oklahoma face the same issue, and must travel to Kansas, Colorado, or New Mexico, where abortion is still legal – for now.
Of course, Black and Brown women feel the effects of such restrictive abortion bills more keenly. According to Monica Raye Simpson, the executive director of the Southern-based reproductive justice group SisterSong, “This fight for abortion access that we’re in right now is a fight against white supremacy in this country.”
Black women face much higher rates of pregnancy-related complications, maternal mortality, and infant mortality than White families. Black families are also more likely to experience barriers to comprehensive health care.
ACLU fights back
According to Oriaku Njoku, co-founder and executive director of ARC-Southeast, an abortion fund in Georgia that serves six states across the Southeast region, “The real issue is the historic and ongoing disparities and access to quality health care, and sexual and reproductive health information in Black and brown communities. There are better ways to reduce unintended pregnancies than trying to restrict abortion.”
Tamya Cox-Toure agrees. “Banning abortion does not eliminate the need for this kind of care – rather it forces people to seek abortion outside of the health care system. Attacks on abortion access have and will continue to fall on the most marginalized people: people of color and people struggling to make ends meet.”
While Black women in Oklahoma currently face these attacks on their autonomy, the ACLU of Oklahoma has their backs. “We have the power to fight back, and the ACLU of Oklahoma is committed to using the full force of our organization to do just that. We will continue to fight in the courts, in statehouses, and in the streets, not just today, but for the foreseeable future. This is not over.”
Editor’s note: The ACLU of Oklahoma is a contributing supporter of The Black Wall Street Times.