Oklahoma Supreme Court partially overturns strict abortion law

Oklahoma Supreme Court partially overturns strict abortion law

Previously, an abortion could only be done in case of a medical emergency, which, according to advocates, could endanger the life of the mother.

OKLAHOMA CITY. On Tuesday, the divided Oklahoma Supreme Court overturned part of the state’s near-total ban on abortion, ruling that women have the right to have an abortion when the pregnancy threatens their health, not just a medical emergency.

It was a small victory for abortion rights advocates as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade.

The court ruled that under the state constitution, a woman has the right to have an abortion to save her life if her doctor decides that continuing her pregnancy would put her at risk because of a condition she has or could develop during her pregnancy. Previously, the right to an abortion could only take place in the event of a medical emergency.

“Requiring you to wait until emergency medical care is provided will further endanger the life of the pregnant woman and is not in the best interests of the state,” the ruling says.

In a 5-4 ruling, the court stated that state law uses the words “preserve” and “save” the mother’s life as an exception to the ban on abortion.

“Except for saving the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency” is very different from “saving her life,” the ruling says.

“Absolute certainty” on the part of the physician that the mother’s life may be in danger is “not required, but mere possibility or assumption is not sufficient” to determine that an abortion is necessary to save the woman’s life, according to the ruling.

However, the court declined to decide whether the state constitution grants the right to abortion for other reasons.

The court ruled in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, the Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic and other organizations challenging state laws passed after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade’s landmark ruling that legalized abortion.

“Lives have been threatened by Oklahoma’s brutal abortion ban, and doctors can now help pregnant women whose lives they think are in danger,” said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. resolution.

“We are disappointed that the court refused to decide whether the state constitution protects the right to have an abortion outside of these circumstances,” Northrup said.

“This decision leaves out too many Oklahoma residents. Oklahoma residents don’t have to cross state lines just to get into an abortion clinic, and it’s heartbreaking that many won’t be able to do so,” Dr. Alan Braid, an abortion provider and plaintiff in the case, said in a statement. .

Emily Wales, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Great Plains, called the decision a small step towards restoring abortion rights.

“The Oklahoma Supreme Court recognized one fundamental truth: patients must have access to intensive care to save their lives,” she said. “But the right recognized today is so limited that most people who need an abortion will not be able to access it. ”

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