News Law and Policy

Oklahoma Could Soon Have Abortion Waiting Period That Is Among the Nation’s Longest

Teddy Wilson

An Oklahoma senate committee passed a bill Monday that would increase the state’s mandatory waiting period for a woman seeking abortion care, with one Republican legislator comparing the decision to have an abortion to divorce proceedings.

An Oklahoma senate committee passed a bill Monday that would increase the state’s mandatory waiting period for a woman seeking abortion care, with one Republican legislator comparing the decision to have an abortion to divorce proceedings.

HB 1409, sponsored by Rep. Lisa Billy (R-Purcell), would amend state law to increase the amount of time that a woman seeking an abortion must wait for the procedure from 24 hours to 72 hours. All of the state-mandated counseling requirements would have to be satisfied 72 hours before the abortion is performed.

The GOP-controlled Senate Committee on Health and Human Services passed the bill Monday with a 8-1 vote.

The anti-choice bill includes a requirement that the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision update the state-mandated printed materials that physicians are required to give to pregnant women so that they say an abortion “shall terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”

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“In Oklahoma, we have a waiting period for divorce of 10 days. If there are minor children it is 90 days,” said Sen. Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City), reported the Associated Press. “We should also take it very seriously when we’re talking about the irrevocable decision of abortion.”

Amanda Allen, state legislative counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement that the bill only increases the burden to accessing safe reproductive health care in Oklahoma.

“Women are more than capable of making their own decisions regarding their health and this bill does nothing more than erect insulting and demeaning hurdles to obtaining a safe and legal abortion,” Allen said.

Tony Lauinger, the state chair of Oklahomans for Life, said in a statement that the bill is intended to give women more time to think about their decision.

“The purpose of the bill is to provide a better opportunity for adequate reflection—following receipt of informed-consent information about risks, alternatives, and the development of the unborn child—before undertaking the irrevocable step of going through with an abortion,” Lauinger said.

The bill would require any abortion facility with a website to include a link to another site hosted by the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision that provides reading materials—much of it medically questionable or inaccurate—required under Oklahoma’s “Woman’s Right to Know Act.”

The bill requires that the text accompanying the link reads:

The State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision maintains a website containing information about the development of the unborn child, as well as video of ultrasound images of the unborn child at various stages of development. The Board’s website can be reached by clicking here.

The website provides information about various anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers, which disseminate misinformation to pregnant women considering abortion, but includes no information regarding abortion services. The site includes misleading information about the supposed link between abortion and breast cancer.

The bill is expected to be passed when it comes up for a vote by the full senate, where Republicans hold a 40-7 majority. The house, also dominated by Republicans with a 72-29 majority, passed the bill in February by a 89-9 vote.

Only three states—Missouri, South Dakota, and Utah—mandate a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion. Several bills have been introduced in state legislatures nationwide to create or increase waiting periods before a woman can seek abortion care.

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