Oklahoma House Committee Advances Measure Requiring “Father’s Consent” Before Woman Can Obtain Safe, Legal Abortion

(MEDIA ADVISORY)  The Oklahoma House Committee on Public Health advanced a bill today which would ban a woman from obtaining abortion care in Oklahoma unless the “father of the fetus” provides his “informed written consent.”  The sponsor of the measure was quoted this week as calling pregnant women “hosts” who have “invited” a pregnancy into their bodies.   

HB 1441 would also allow the person who the patient identifies as the father to “demand” a paternity test.  Since these types of tests are not available until about 10 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy--and can also cost thousands of dollars—this provision could delay a woman seeking abortion care by weeks.  This is particularly burdensome for Oklahoma women, who already face a mandatory delay of at least three days before they are able to get a safe and legal abortion.

This bill could also amount to a total ban on abortion for many women in domestic violence situations, and could cause abusive incidents for others.

The measure is also unequivocally unconstitutional. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a requirement that a woman notify her spouse before having an abortion.”  This bill takes such a requirement one step further, requiring paternal consent before an abortion can be performed.

The bill now heads to the full House.

Said Amanda Allen, Senior State Legislative Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“It is shameful that Oklahoma politicians advanced this measure, which is demeaning, patently unconstitutional, and puts women in abusive relationships at risk.  We call on the Oklahoma legislature to reject this outrageous measure and trust women to make their own health care decisions.”

Oklahoma politicians have made in their mission to restrict access to reproductive health care in recent years.  Just last year, the Oklahoma legislature advanced a complete abortion ban; Governor Mary Fallin eventually vetoed the measure, citing constitutional concerns.  In fact, the Center has challenged eight measures restricting reproductive health care in Oklahoma in the last six years and has a 100% success rate for concluded cases.

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