What Is Happening in Oklahoma?
By Nina Bahadur
If you aren't familiar with what’s happening in Oklahoma right now, sit yourself down, because this one's a doozy.
The Oklahoma state legislature has passed a law criminalizing abortion. This means that any physician who is found to have performed an abortion — except in cases where the procedure will save the woman's life — will be found guilty of a felony crime. The bill does not grant exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Yes, you read that correctly — physicians who perform a 100 percent legal medical procedure in the Sooner State could be sentenced to a minimum of one year and a maximum of three years in prison, and would be barred from practicing medicine in the state.
Senate Bill 1552 still needs final approval from Gov. Mary Fallin, may god help us all. Spokesperson Michael McNutt told CNN that Fallin has yet to decide whether or not she will sign the bill, but she has taken a stand against abortion before. The Center For Reproductive Rights said in a statement that Fallin has signed a whopping 18 bills restricting reproductive health care access since she took office in 2011. Thankfully, many of those bills have since been blocked.
Oklahoma has been cracking down on abortion clinics recently, and there are currently only two abortion clinics still open in a state that spans almost 70,000 square miles and is home to 3.9 million people. The Guttmacher Institute reports that the state has a number of restrictions in place including mandatory state-directed counseling "that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion" and a mandatory waiting period.
Elizabeth Nash, the Senior State Issues Associate at the Guttmacher Institute, tells SELF that if Gov. Fallin signs the law, it would technically go into effect on November 1, 2016. However, Nash is confident that the law will be challenged in court, and that judges will put the law on hold while the case is being settled. "Presumably there would be some years-long litigation," she says.
OK, so this law is essentially a garbage piece of legislation that is a waste of judges' time and taxpayer money. That said, the situation is still horrifying. The fact that lawmakers want to take away a woman's agency and the right to choose what is best for herself and her family, and the fact that they will go so far as to punish doctors and revoke medical licenses in order to do it, is almost beyond comprehension.
And, as we all know, abortion restrictions only hurt the people who are unable to circumvent them. Women who are privileged will always be able to access safe abortions, whether it’s because they are able to travel out of state or because they know a sympathetic physician. But what about the thousands of women who cannot afford to take time off to drive hours to a clinic, and go through required counseling, and sit there for an unnecessary waiting period? What about the women who may not have the means to pay out-of-pocket for the procedure? These are the women who might pay what amounts to a back-alley abortionist for an unsafe, unclean procedure, or order pills off the Internet, or even try to induce a miscarriage at home out of sheer desperation. With laws like this one, the people behind it literally believe the best-case scenario is to bring infants into situations where mothers are unwilling or unable to care for them, be that emotionally or financially.
No, these laws are not at all what's "best for families." They are the opposite.
More From SELF:
• What Really Happens When You Defund Planned Parenthood
• Proof That Texas’ Abortion Law Has Been Really Bad For Women
• Google Searches For DIY Abortions Are On The Rise
• Planned Parenthood Is Being Targeted In 24 States
Photo Credit: Getty Images