The Oklahoma Supreme Court blocked three abortion restrictions on Monday, ensuring that the trio of laws cracking down on medication abortion and limiting who can perform the procedure will not go into effect next week as legal challenges play out.
The court’s 5-3 ruling temporarily blocks a law that would have allowed only board-certified OB/GYNs to perform the procedure ― a move that reproductive rights advocates said would cut the state’s number of providers in half. The other two laws would make it more difficult for patients to obtain a medication abortion, using what’s known as the abortion pill, by requiring providers of the medication to have certain hospital admitting privileges and forcing patients to undergo an ultrasound before taking the pills ― a policy that would require multiple trips to clinics.
Though supporters of the laws will likely appeal Monday’s decision, reproductive rights advocates hailed the court’s decision for now.
“What a relief, to have these potentially devastating laws blocked from taking effect next week,” Tamya Cox, the co-chair of Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice, said in a statement Monday. “Pregnant people in Oklahoma, particularly Black and brown people, already need to jump through seemingly endless hoops to access health care. These restrictions would have pushed abortion out of reach entirely for many.”
Dr. Alan Braid, owner of Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic, said in another statement: “The court’s decision today comes as a huge relief.”
The lawsuit against the state was filed by numerous national and state-level abortion rights advocacy groups, including the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Many of those advocacy groups have emphasized the importance of keeping abortion accessible in Oklahoma after Texas, which borders the state, enacted the country’s most restrictive abortion ban on Sept. 1. Any patients seeking abortions after about six weeks into term, which is before many women know they’re pregnant, have been forced to seek care out of state.
“New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma and Louisiana are all going to be getting swamped with Texans,” Anna Rupani, who co-directs Fund Texas Choice, which helps with abortion-related travel costs, told HuffPost when the law was enacted.
That prediction was accurate. An Oklahoma abortion clinic spotlighted in The New York Times earlier this month reported that at least two-thirds of its scheduled patients now come from Texas and that it can barely keep up with the demand.