On Monday, women’s health had another victory in the courts, this time in Oklahoma. A judge temporarily blocked a new law that would have prevented women from accessing emergency contraception over the counter.
This isn’t the first time this year that extreme anti-women’s health legislation has been halted by the courts.
Just a few weeks ago, a federal district court blocked a Wisconsin law requiring doctors who provide safe and legal abortion to obtain hospital admitting privileges—acknowledging that the law could not only cut off access to abortion, but in the process close health centers – and these are health centers that do not only provide abortion, but that women rely on for lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and preventive health care. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge William M. Conley said:
“Even if there were some evidence that the admitting privileges requirement would actually further women’s health, any benefit is greatly outweighed by the burdens caused by increased travel, decreased access and, at least for some women, the denial of an in-state option for abortion services.”
Similar legislation has also been blocked in Alabama, Mississippi, and North Dakota—where judges all ruled that these laws likely violated women’s right to access safe and legal abortion. These decision recognize what we know: the extreme laws anti-women’s health politicians are pushing aren’t in fact aimed at improving women’s health and safety, but rather intended to limit abortion access (even if that requires cutting off access to basic preventive health care).
Laws that tried to impose six-and 12-week bans on access to safe and legal abortion in North Dakota and Arkansas have also been blocked by the courts; meanwhile, 20-week bans in Arizona and Idaho were struck down. These rulings serve as a warning to politicians around the country trying to pass unconstitutional and dangerous bans on abortion: they will not stand. Recently, when U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland ruled on the six-week ban in North Dakota, he acknowledged that these laws aren’t only unconstitutional, but they’re a waste of taxpayer dollars. Judge Hovland stated that:
“[T]he State has extended an invitation to an expensive court battle over a law restricting abortions that is a blatant violation of the constitutional guarantees afforded to all women. The United States Supreme Court has unequivocally said that no state may deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her pregnancy at a point prior to viability.”
If there’s anything these court rulings have shown, it’s that politics shouldn’t have a place in women’s health. Women don’t turn to politicians for advice about birth control, mammograms, or cancer screenings or treatments — and politicians should not be involved in a woman’s personal medical decisions.