Oklahoma Supreme Court Protects Access to Safe, Legal Abortion
“We have seen the devastating impact of these restrictions,” says Planned Parenthood
Today, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court, in a lawsuit brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), temporarily blocked an Oklahoma law requiring physicians to have admitting privileges at a local hospital that was scheduled to go into effect on November 1. This law is part of a national trend of TRAP laws (targeted restrictions of abortion providers) that threaten women’s access to safe, legal abortion, including in Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Wisconsin. In a separate lawsuit brought by CRR, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has also temporarily blocked dangerous restrictions on medication abortion, an extremely safe method of abortion early in pregnancy.
These orders come only weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court protected access to safe, legal abortion in Texas by temporarily blocking a TRAP law which had forced more than a dozen health centers to stop providing safe, legal abortion overnight.
“We have seen the heartbreaking impact these restrictions have had on women in Texas who lost access to safe, legal abortion overnight,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “We are relieved the court has stepped in to protect women’s access to safe, legal abortion in Oklahoma. A woman’s access to safe, legal abortion should not depend upon where she happens to live. That cannot be what the Supreme Court intended when it has repeatedly affirmed a woman’s constitutional right to make personal medical decisions.[b"[/b]
Within hours of the Texas restriction taking effect and before the Supreme Court’s order, Planned Parenthood witnessed its catastrophic impact — our centers were inundated with calls from frightened and upset patients, and women lined up outside our doors in the morning, waiting to see if they could still access the care they need at the Planned Parenthood health centers that remained open.
- Doris Dixon, a call center director for Planned Parenthood in Houston, shared a heartbreaking account of a woman who traveled from out-of-state and stayed in Houston overnight, only to find that she couldn’t obtain a procedure, writing: “I don’t know what will happen to her. I don’t know that I will ever stop thinking about her. And she is just one woman whose life has been turned upside down by this law.”
- In Houston, Planned Parenthood reports that its call volume from patients seeking abortion services increased 170 percent.
- In the days after the order, Planned Parenthood in Austin received seven times as many calls about abortion services, as compared to typical averages.
- Across Central and North Texas, Planned Parenthood saw a daily average of four times as many calls from women seeking abortions.
- Many of these calls were from women living far outside the affiliates’ service regions, in cities such as Midland and McAllen, where providers had closed.
Data, including from the CDC, shows that abortion has over a 99 percent safety record. Moreover, for patients’ safety, providers have plans in place in case of an emergency. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) spoke out against these restrictions, writing that: “The College opposes such requirements because they improperly regulate medical care and do not improve patient safety or quality of care.… In states with few abortion providers, TRAP laws can make abortion essentially inaccessible.”
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
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