Oklahoma Becomes Second State to Criminalize Doctors for Providing Safe and Common Method of Abortion

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Measure comes on the heels of onslaught of abortion restrictions in the region
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(PRESS RELEASE) Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a measure into law late yesterday which bans the safest and most commonly used method of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester—a law that could force some women to either undergo additional invasive unnecessary procedures, incur additional costs, delay their care, or even lose access to abortion services entirely.

Fallin’s signing of HB 1721—which is scheduled to take effect on November 1, 2015—makes Oklahoma the second state with such a restriction, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a similar measure into law last week over the objections of local and national medical experts, including over 20 area physicians.  Both measures prohibit physicians from providing a safe, effective, and medically proven method of abortions to many women seeking care after 13 weeks of pregnancy, early in the second trimester.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“With this law, Oklahoma has joined Kansas in an alarming trend toward substituting politicians’ agendas for the judgment and expertise of doctors, and then threatening those doctors with criminal charges if they disagree.

“Women need to be able to trust their physicians to provide the very best care possible, tailored to their unique needs and circumstances and not dictated under threat of prosecution. It’s time politicians stop passing these dangerous laws and recognize that women’s reproductive health care is a necessity, not a crime.”

While the majority of women seeking abortion services do so in the first trimester, this measure will directly impact the only provider of safe, high-quality second trimester abortion care in the entire state.

From clinic shutdown laws—which have closed clinics in Texas and threaten to shutter abortion providers in OklahomaLouisianaMississippi, and Alabama—to outright bans on abortion, women in the South face innumerable hurdles when trying to access their constitutional right to safe and legal abortion services.  Oklahoma women face many of these challenges, with only two clinics providing safe and legal abortion services in the entire state. Rather than focusing onincreasing the number of policies that are known to support women and children, politicians in Oklahoma have spent their time enacting abortion restrictions that do nothing to improve women’s health and safety.  In fact, Oklahoma has been brought to court at least six times since 2010 to defend restrictions on abortion and contraception, including unconstitutional attacks on medication abortion and a Texas-style clinic shutdown law.