Court Says Oklahoma Abortion Providers Can Stay Open as COVID-19 Lawsuit Continues

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Last night, a federal district judge in Oklahoma granted a preliminary injunction allowing most abortion care to continue in the state, and allowing abortion access to resume fully on Friday, April 24, despite Gov. Kevin Stitt’s order banning abortion during the COVID-19 pandemic. The judge previously granted a temporary restraining order allowing most abortion care to continue through April 20, but yesterday’s decision extends that relief until the case concludes, and allows all abortion care to resume on Friday. The request for emergency relief came from the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood Federation of America on behalf of Oklahoma abortion providers.

Statement from Nancy Northup, President & CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“This ruling should send a clear message: enough is enough. Oklahoma now has struck out three times--twice at the district court and once at the appellate court. It’s time for Oklahoma and other states to stop exploiting the pandemic to close abortion clinics and deny women essential, time-sensitive healthcare.” 

The decision is available here.    

TIMELINE:

March 24: Gov. Stitt issued an order to postpone all elective surgeries and minor medical procedures.

March 27: Gov. Stitt subsequently declared that the order prohibits all abortions in the state, forcing all health centers to halt abortion services. 

March 30: The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood Federation filed this lawsuit challenging the order and asking the court to allow abortion care to continue. 

April 6: District Court Judge Charles Goodwin granted a temporary restraining order allowing abortion care--specifically medication abortion and abortion procedures for patients who would otherwise pass the state’s gestational limit--to continue in Oklahoma until April 20. 

April 13: The 10th Circuit denies the state’s request to stay the temporary restraining order.

April 20 (Yesterday): The district court grants a preliminary injunction, allowing most abortion care to continue effective immediately, and allowing abortion care to resume fully starting April 24.

 

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MEDIA CONTACT: Kelly Krause, center.press@reprorights.org, 585-919-9966