Oklahoma Supreme Court Issues Ruling on Abortion Ban

Oklahoma Court Tosses Part of Abortion Ban

(USNewsBreak.com) – Nearly a year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, abortion continues to be a hot-button issue that’s taking up a lot of time in state courts. Many states passed their own abortion laws, some with near-total bans. Oklahoma was one such state to enact such restrictions, and it led to a legal battle. The state’s Supreme Court recently ruled on the matter.

Oklahoma Abortion Law

In June 2022, right after the SCOTUS decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, Oklahoma’s trigger law went into effect. It banned all terminations with one exception — it allowed the procedure in cases where a medical emergency necessitates it to “preserve” the woman’s life.

In July 2022, the Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners filed a lawsuit in the state’s Supreme Court challenging two of the state’s bans: SB 612 and Section 861. Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice v. Drummond argued the abortion law violated the state’s constitution, particularly the sections which protect substantive due process and inalienable rights.

Oklahoma Supreme Court’s Ruling

On March 21, the Oklahoma Supreme Court handed down its ruling in the case. It was a tight decision, with the Justices ruling 5-4 abortions are legal when the pregnancy creates or could result in a condition endangering the woman’s life. “Requiring one to wait until there is a medical emergency” not only puts the woman at significant risk, it “does not serve a compelling state interest.”

Even so, the court explicitly stated that while “Absolute certainty is not required … mere possibility or speculation is insufficient.” The ruling specifies a woman can elect to receive an abortion, for this reason, at any time during the pregnancy.

The lawsuit also sought to overturn Section 861, which made performing an abortion a felony crime carrying a prison sentence of up to 5 years. The Oklahoma Supreme Court refused to rule on this particular statute, effectively upholding it.

Ruling Reactions

While the ruling largely leaves the near-total ban in place and renders it a criminal activity, some see it as a partial win for pro-choice advocates. According to the AP News, Planned Parenthood of Great Plains CEO Emily Wales said the decision recognized “patients must be permitted to access critical care to save their lives.” However, she lamented that it didn’t go nearly far enough.

Still, pro-life proponents tout the ruling as a win for upholding criminal elements of the statutes and refusing to rule on whether abortion is a right enshrined in the state constitution.

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