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The Oklahoma State Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down one of the state’s most extreme anti-abortion laws. In a 5-4 ruling, the Court affirmed Oklahomans have a constitutional right to abortion to protect the mother’s life.
The ruling contradicts a law passed by Republicans in the legislature and signed by Governor Stitt requiring a woman to be in a medical emergency to receive an abortion.
According to The Oklahoman, justices concluded abortions are legal if a physician reasonably determines a mother’s life is at risk.
“A woman has an inherent right to choose to terminate her pregnancy if at any point in the pregnancy, the woman’s physician has determined to a reasonable degree of medical certainty or probability that the continuation of the pregnancy will endanger the woman’s life due to the pregnancy itself or due to a medical condition that the woman is either currently suffering from or likely to suffer from during the pregnancy,” the statement reads.
The ruling removes a requirement for a doctor to have “absolute certainty” an abortion would help save a mother’s life.
Ruling strikes down law requiring a patient to be experiencing a medical emergency to receive an abortion.
Last year, after the fall of Roe v. Wade, former Attorney General John O’Connor issued guidance further criminalizing abortion.
“Ending the life of an unborn child in Oklahoma is a crime, unless it is necessary to preserve the mother’s life,” O’Connor wrote.
The now-defunct law allowed doctors performing abortions to be criminally liable unless they proved patients would die without the procedure. Justices in the majority said no other law in the nation enforces such an undue burden to receive medical care.
“We know of no other law that requires one to wait until there is [a] medical emergency… to receive treatment,” they wrote.
The Justices did, however, stop short of affirming abortion to be a broad right for all in Oklahoma. People in the state are still barred from accessing abortions from the moment of conception, with certain exceptions.
Still, the Court’s confirmation of this constitutional right is encouraging news for many reproductive healthcare advocates in the state.
Tulsa-based reproductive healthcare leader Laura Bellis says the decision brings a small sense of relief.
“I’m so relieved to see some personal, life-saving healthcare decisions are being placed back in the hands of women and their doctors.
“Freedom and privacy when it comes to medical decisions are important,” Bellis continued. “This does not fully provide that to all Oklahomans, but it is a positive step.”