OKLAHOMA HOUSE APPROVES TOTAL ABORTION BAN, HEIGHTENING THREAT TO ABORTION ACCESS
For Immediate Release: March 23, 2022
H.B. 4327 contains the same private enforcement mechanism as Texas’s S.B. 8 and would take effect immediately if signed into law
Abortion rights supporters announce Bans off Oklahoma Rally and People’s Hearing at the Capitol on April 5
OKLAHOMA CITY — Today, the Oklahoma House approved H.B. 4327, a total abortion ban that allows for private enforcement of the law, modeled after Texas’s S.B. 8. If approved by the Senate and signed into law, it would take effect immediately — eliminating abortion access in the state.
H.B. 4327 is not the only abortion ban floated this session. Also approved by the Senate earlier this month were a 30 day ban and another Texas S.B. 8-style six-week ban, enforceable only via private action. All of these bills are grave threats to abortion access, not only in Oklahoma, but across the region. H.B. 4327, specifically, would not only ban abortion completely, but allow private individuals to enforce Oklahoma law by acting as bounty hunters, suing anyone — from an abortion provider to a patient’s family member — who helps someone seek an abortion in the state. This ban — and the other bans proposed this session — would severely limit the ability of people to decide what is best for their own bodies, lives, and future, and for their loved ones to support them in those decisions.
Further, the ban would devastate the region’s abortion care network, forcing thousands of patients from Oklahoma to leave the state for abortion services — just as their neighbors in Texas have been doing since the state’s own six-week ban was allowed to take effect in September. Nearly half of all Texans who obtained an abortion out-of-state in the last six months traveled to Oklahoma. Now, they could find themselves forced to travel even further for this essential health service — if they can afford to in the first place. For many Oklahomans who already face barriers to health care due to systemic racism and discrimination — especially Black, Latino, or Indigenous people; LGBTQ+ people; those who live in rural communities; or who have low incomes — abortion could be pushed out of reach entirely, with devastating consequences for their long-term health and well-being.
As abortion access comes under fire in Oklahoma and at the U.S. Supreme Court, abortion providers, funds, and advocates are prepared to fight back. This coalition of groups is announcing the Bans Off Oklahoma Rally and People’s Hearing in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, April 5. Supporters are encouraged to join for a rally and a day of action in the Capitol.
Statement from Tamya Cox-Touré, executive director, ACLU of Oklahoma:
“People should have the power to make health decisions throughout their pregnancy that are best for their circumstances, including whether to end a pregnancy, without interference from politicians. With H.B. 4327, Representative Wendi Stearman has not only created an environment of shame by pushing a partisan political agenda to stigmatize the health care decisions of Oklahomans but has also managed to attack our transgender and nonbinary communities by building in language that defines a person’s gender identity based on their assigned biological sex. Attacks on abortion access have consistently caused harm to the same people who have always faced systemic barriers to care — especially the 2SLGBTQ+ community. H.B. 4327 would further exacerbate existing disparities in healthcare access. We will continue to fight for the future all Oklahomans deserve: one that safeguards abortion care, upholds basic rights and justice, and respects our decision-making."
Statement from Emily Wales, interim president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes:
“There was a time when passing blatantly unconstitutional laws was considered un-American. Based on Oklahoma politicians’ commitment to steamrolling the rights of the people they serve, there is little concern in the Capitol for constitutional protections. People who need abortion will be forced to flee their home state, attempt to end their pregnancies without medical support, and face state-created bounty hunters here at home. As we’ve seen during the crisis in Texas, bans do not eliminate the need for abortion, but that is not the point of bills like H.B. 4327. The proposed abortion ban is intended to shame, stigmatize, and create fear among vulnerable Oklahomans. At Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, we’re not giving up without a fight. We will make the voices of patients, providers, and supporters heard at the Oklahoma Capitol on April 5. We encourage all people who believe in personal, compassionate health care to join us."
Statement from Rebecca Tong, co-executive director, Trust Women:
“The past six and a half months since Texas’s S.B. 8 went into effect have been among the most harrowing we have ever seen as an organization. S.B. 8 has manufactured the greatest health care crisis since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now Oklahoma lawmakers want to inflict that completely avoidable crisis on their own citizens.
H.B. 4327 will harm pregnant people and communities. It will worsen maternal health outcomes. The Oklahoma Legislature is criminalizing pregnancy itself. This is anti-science, anti-community, and undemocratic. Lawmakers must realize the substantial impact these anti-abortion laws will have on average Oklahomans will be significant and long-term.
We strongly encourage all Oklahomans who are concerned about the loss of abortion care in their state to attend the People’s Hearing in OKC on April 5, and let legislators know that you demand abortions remain legal and accessible in Oklahoma.”
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
“There is no limit to the cruelty that Oklahoma legislators are pushing this session. They have openly admitted that their goal is to ban abortion — to deny Oklahomans their fundamental right to control their bodies and to take away their freedoms. And they are not alone in this effort: across the country, more than three hundred anti-abortion rights laws have been proposed. Abortion bans in Idaho, Florida, and West Virginia are already on their way to governors’ desks. But we will not be intimidated by bans that are designed to shame the people who seek abortions and people who support them. Planned Parenthood Action Fund stands with Oklahoma’s advocates for reproductive justice, rights, and health, and we will continue to fight alongside them in every avenue possible.”
Jessica Arons, senior policy counsel, ACLU:
“This is a dark moment for Oklahomans and their ability to control their own bodies and futures and will have ripple effects throughout the region. After seeing the devastation caused by Texas’ draconian abortion ban, Oklahoma politicians have taken the unconscionable step of imposing an even harsher ban on pregnant people seeking this essential health care. No one should have to leave their home state to get the care they need. And for many, traveling to another state won’t be an option, forcing them to continue their pregnancies against their will. Sadly, these attacks won’t stop with Oklahoma. If the Supreme Court guts or overturns Roe v. Wade later this year, abortion could quickly be banned in half the country. We will continue fighting until every person can get the care they need without political interference and cruel obstacles designed to take away our dignity and power to control our lives.”
Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational, advocacy, and limited electoral activity, including grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and voter education.
Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes is an independent, nonpartisan 501(c)4 nonprofit organization that advocates for sexual and reproductive health and rights in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. We lobby state lawmakers, mobilize more than 120,000 grassroots supporters, and engage in issue education in order to protect and expand access to health care and comprehensive sex education in the communities we serve, and to promote Planned Parenthood’s mission.
For more than 100 years, the ACLU has worked in courts, legislatures, and communities to protect the constitutional rights of all people. With a nationwide network of offices and millions of members and supporters, we take up the toughest civil liberties fights. Beyond one person, party, or side — we the people dare to create a more perfect union. Learn more at aclu.org.
American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma is a nonprofit, non-partisan, privately funded organization devoted exclusively to the defense and promotion of the individual rights secured by the United States and Oklahoma Constitutions.
Trust Women was founded in 2009 with the mission to open clinics that provide abortion care in underserved areas. The organization operates two reproductive health care clinics in Wichita, Kansas and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma which provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare for all those who need it, including abortions. Trust Women provides education, advocacy and community support across the region in support of expanded access to abortion care with a focus on reproductive justice. Learn more at trustwomen.org.