Oklahoma Supreme Court blocks abortion restrictions

 November 17, 2023

The Oklahoma Supreme Court temporarily blocked a set of abortion restrictions, finding they placed "unnecessary burdens on the lawful termination of a pregnancy."

The ruling is a victory for the left in a deep red state where nearly all abortions have been banned since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade. 

The court split 5-4, ruling that the state constitution includes a "limited" right to terminate a pregnancy to save a mother's life.

Abortion ruling in Oklahoma

The Supreme Court's repeal of Roe v. Wade last year clarified that there is no federal right to an abortion while teeing up legal battles in states that attempted to enforce restrictions.

The challengers in Oklahoma sued to block three laws under the state constitution's due process clause, which states, "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

Adopting the Supreme Court's reasoning in the Dobbs decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court said it would have to find that the right to an abortion "was deeply rooted in Oklahoma's history and tradition."

While Oklahoma had banned abortion throughout history until the Roe v. Wade decision, the state has always recognized exceptions to protect the life of the mother, the court found. The court's dissenters said the majority failed to recognize the rights of the unborn.

"Any analysis of an abortion statute that proceeds under the proposition that the life of the unborn is unworthy of consideration is defective," they wrote.

Left celebrates...

The three laws require abortions to be performed by board-certified OB/GYNs, for abortion pills to be prescribed by doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and for ultrasounds 72 hours before giving abortion pills.

Democrats have made defending abortion the center of their political messaging. Republicans have continued to grapple with the politics of the issue after Ohio voted to amend its constitution last week to recognize the right to an abortion.

The Center for Reproductive Rights said the Oklahoma ruling is "welcome news, but the devastating reality is that Oklahomans still do not have access to the abortion care they need."

"The right to abortion is a human right, and Oklahomans deserve to access such essential healthcare without barriers," Rabia Muqaddam, senior staff attorney for the organization, said in a statement.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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