Abortion rights protesters.
Abortion rights protestors. Photo credit: risingthermals / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Oklahoma’s Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down two abortion bans that require women to experience a “medical emergency” before getting a life-saving abortion.

Listen To This Story
Voiced by Amazon Polly

Oklahoma’s Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down two abortion bans that require women to experience a “medical emergency” before getting a life-saving abortion.

In a 6-3 decision, the justices said these laws violate the state’s constitution based on a previous ruling from earlier this year. In March, the court had said that the constitution affords “an inherent right of a pregnant woman to terminate a pregnancy when necessary to save her life.”

Today, the justices affirmed that, when it comes to making the decision of whether the woman’s life may be in danger, “absolute certainty is not required” to perform an abortion. The ruling also made it clear that “mere possibility or speculation is insufficient” to perform a legal abortion in Oklahoma.

The state’s Democrats hailed the decision.

“I am pleased to learn about today’s ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court that will keep health care decisions where they belong, between Oklahomans and their physicians,” said Oklahoma House Democratic Leader Cyndi Munson.

“Today’s ruling is a reminder, for the [Republican] supermajority in both chambers, that putting forth extremist legislation for partisan political points is a waste of taxpayer time and money,” Munson added.

State Republicans, on the other hand, were quick to point out that the court left the rest of Oklahoma’s anti-abortion laws, which are among the strictest in the US, in place.

“Oklahomans can rest assured that House Republicans will continue to protect the lives of the unborn and pursue legislation that values all life,” said House Speaker Charles McCall. “Thanks to the leadership of House and Senate Republicans, Oklahoma is one of the most pro-life states in the nation. Today’s ruling won’t change that, and we will continue to be a voice for the voiceless as we strive to protect the right to life in the State of Oklahoma.”

While this ruling obviously only applies to the Sooner State, it may give abortion rights activists some hope that similar laws across the country will also be struck down.

Since the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision last year, more than a dozen states have put in place more or less draconian abortion bans.

The Biden administration is using the medical emergency exception to ensure that pregnant women can get an abortion if their own wellbeing is at risk.

“Under the law, no matter where you live, women have the right to emergency care — including abortion care,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said last year. “Today, in no uncertain terms, we are reinforcing that we expect providers to continue offering these services, and that federal law preempts state abortion bans when needed for emergency care.”

In addition, the administration also investigated two hospitals that refused to treat a woman who was carrying a fetus with virtually no chance of surviving while being at a high risk for life-threatening complications.

If it is determined that these or other hospitals, even in states with strict abortion bans, did not treat women in such emergency situations, they could lose access to federal Medicare and Medicaid funds.


Comments are closed.