As health care professionals who have dedicated our careers and lives to securing healthy futures for our patients and their families, we respectfully urge you to cease pursuit of legislation that interferes with the provision of reproductive health care, including abortion, in Oklahoma. These bills would be harmful to Oklahomans and would do nothing to address the urgent needs of families and communities across our state.
Sound health policy must be based on scientific facts and evidence-based medicine, and the best health care is provided free of political interference in the patient-physician relationship. Unfortunately, the medically unjustified legislation under your consideration will tie the hands of clinicians and will undermine the high-quality, equitable care and outcomes provided in our state.
- HB 1904 would improperly regulate medical practice by restricting appropriately trained and credentialed physicians from providing abortion care. Limiting the pool of physicians to board certified obstetrician-gynecologists would serve no purpose for patients, increase delays to care, and impose a disproportionate burden on rural Oklahomans who already have to travel long distances to access services.
- SB 778 would compromise the patient-clinician relationship and the principles of informed consent by requiring clinicians to give patients inaccurate, misleading information.
- SB 779 would create extensive and onerous administrative requirements for physicians, manufacturers, and distributors of medication used in medication abortion and in other health care indications. Medication abortion is already subject to unnecessary overregulation; any additional government overreach could curtail or wholly eliminate its availability.
- Multiple bills being considered by this legislature, including HB 1102, HB 1904, HJR 1017, and SB 612, would impose professional, civil, and criminal penalties on clinicians who care for their patients according to their medical training and professional judgement – a dangerous precedent for governmental interference in medical practice.
- These bills restrict access to safe abortion care and indefensibly jeopardize patient health and well-being.
COVID-19 continues to test the strength of our health care system, economy, and social safety net, and has underscored already unsustainable health care inequities. Instead of focusing on divisive, unjustified restrictions that jeopardize health care access and outcomes, we urge you to turn your attention to the immediate health care needs of the people and families in our state.
In 2019, for the twenty-third consecutive year, Oklahoma was ranked as one of the ten “unhealthiest” states in the nation. Twenty-seven percent of adults in this state suffer from chronic health conditions that put them at significant risk of falling severely ill from COVID-19. These conditions disproportionately impact communities of color, including Black and Native people in the state. Despite this, the current vaccination rates in Oklahoma demonstrate severe disparities in access for communities of color compared to white people in the state, particularly for Black Oklahomans.
While COVID-19 has put into stark relief the racial inequities in health care access currently experienced by people in our states, these inequities persist in a range of care, including maternal health. For instance, in 2019 rural and Native women experienced chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, before and during pregnancy at higher rates than their white and urban counterparts. For many women, these health disparities can be fatal. In Oklahoma, although Black women make up only 10% of the pregnancies, they account for nearly 22% of the maternal deaths in the state.
A recent analysis of evidence-based policies that support family health and well-being compared to abortion restrictions showed that Oklahoma has enacted only 9 out of 25 policies that improve access to health for pregnant people and children. Meanwhile, the state ranks as one of three states with the highest number of abortion restrictions in the country. The anti-abortion policies currently being considered by this legislature continue this trend of misplaced priorities, will further impede access to care for underserved communities in Oklahoma, and will exacerbate health disparities in our state.
Shared decision making between patients and their health care providers must continue to rely on science, best practices, and individual needs. Again, we respectfully urge you to oppose legislation that restricts access to reproductive health care; seeks to improperly regulate or punish clinicians providing compassionate, evidence-based care; and inserts the government into the patient-clinician relationship. We respect the ability of Oklahoma families to make their own decisions regarding their health care and their futures and would ask you to do the same.
Joshua Yap, MD, MPH, Tulsa
Maya Bass, MD, MA, FAAFP, Oklahoma City
Anuj Khattar, MD, Oklahoma City
Iman Alsaden, MD, FACOG, Tulsa and Oklahoma City
Kate Arnold, MD, Oklahoma City
Alan Braid, MD, Board Certified OB/GYN, Tulsa
Dana Stone, MD, FACOG, Oklahoma City
Whitney Driver, MD, FACOG, Edmond
Amenthia Carrion, Patient Care Coordinator, Oklahoma City
Carissa Blethen, Medical Assistant, Oklahoma City
Jennifer Reince, Patient Care Coordinator, Oklahoma City
Keisha Kaubin, RMA, Oklahoma City
Colleen McNicholas, DO, MSCI, FACOG, Oklahoma City
Joey Banks, MD, ABFM, Tulsa
Ghazaleh Moayedi, DO, MPH, FACOG, Oklahoma City
Christina Bourne, MD, MPH, Oklahoma City
Kathryn Lindsay, MD, OB/GYN, Oklahoma City
Tracy Starks, LPC, Oklahoma City
Jamie Casorio, Patient Care Advocate at Trust Women, Oklahoma City
Molly Oakley, Chief of Staff at Trust Women, Oklahoma City
Christie Burkhart, Chief Operations and Compliance Officer at Trust Women, Oklahoma City
Julie Burkhart, Founder and CEO of Trust Women, Oklahoma City
Steven Landgarten, MD
Antoine Devon Holman
Nancy A. Henry
Jeri Jeanne Wensel
Diana Lynn Burull
Lisa Allen Lewis
Patrick Dale Green
Jean Elizabeth Mclaughlin
Joseph Larry Jr. Magana
Chris Martin Morgan
Trudy M. Ross
Emily Catherine McMurphy
Lana W. Henson
Carlene J. McGuire
Jessica Marie Holtzapple
Brooke Ellen Fowler
Sharon Kay Chambers
Kimball A. Chambers
Cameron Nathaniel Cross
Shawna E. Doering
Michele R. Davey
Rebecca Ann Mitchell
Susan Bird Singh
Robin Eleanor Patten
Bernie James Cremin
Barbara J. Bannon
Joanne Marie Kondratieff
Patricia Hogan Mort
Gordon L. Nielsen
Michael Gordon Schooling
Michelle Blank, LCSW
Susan A. Ward
Emily Yuvonne Duensing
Marilyn Holmgren Bedford
Emily Yuvonne Duensing
Phillip Stanislaus Wachowski
Renita Diane Moreno
Julie Dawn Reagle
Marguerite Huey Larson
Shannon Dale Nall
R. Lyn Rogers
Nicole Leann McAfee
Donna K. Thompson
 Trevor Brown, Experts: Oklahoma, Among Unhealthiest States, Faces Heightened Risks for COVID-19, PBS Frontline, Apr. 16, 2020, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/experts-oklahoma-among-the-unhealthiest-states-faces-heightened-risks-for-covid-19/.
 See, e.g., Patrina Adger, Local leaders work to prevent racial disparities in COVID-19 disparities in Black communities, KOCO News, Feb. 24, 2021, https://www.koco.com/article/local-leaders-work-to-prevent-racial-disparities-in-covid-19-vaccines-in-black-community/35622033.
 Disparities in Chronic Health Conditions Between Rural and Urban Oklahoma Mothers Oklahoma Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, Vol. 21.1, May 2019, https://www.ok.gov/health2/documents/Disparities%20in%20Chronic%20Health%20Conditions%20(PRAMSgram%20May%202019).pdf.
 Community Service Council, https://csctulsa.org/black-maternal-health/.