April 14, 2015 — Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed a bill (HB 1721) into law that will prohibit physicians from performing a certain abortion procedure, the AP/New York Times reports (AP/New York Times, 4/13).
The state is now the second in the nation to adopt such a ban. Kansas last week became the first state to do so, and lawmakers have also proposed similar bills in Missouri (HB 920) and South Carolina (S 531). The measures are based on language provided by the National Right to Life Committee.
Background, Law Details
Abortion-rights opponents say the measure will ban a procedure called dilation and evacuation. They are calling the procedure "dismemberment abortion," which physicians and supporters of abortion rights say is an incendiary and misleading phrase.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the method accounted for about 5% of the approximately 5,000 abortions performed in the state in 2013. Physicians use the method in about 8% to 9% of abortions across the U.S.
Under the Oklahoma measure, physicians who perform the procedure could face a $10,000 fine and up to two years in prison. The law includes an exception for cases of serious risk to a woman's health (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/9).
Center for Reproductive Rights President and CEO Nancy Northup said in a statement, "Women need to be able to trust their physicians to provide the very best care possible, tailored to their unique needs and circumstances and not dictated under threat of prosecution. It's time politicians stop passing these dangerous laws and recognize that women's reproductive health care is a necessity, not a crime" (CRR statement, 4/14).
Similarly, Vanessa Cullins, vice president for external medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, voiced concerns about the bill in a statement last week. "This legislation would prevent doctors from providing health care based on what's best for our patients, which is dangerous and deeply disturbing," she said, adding that "Planned Parenthood will fight to protect our patients' access to safe medical care, no matter what" (PPFA statement, 4/9).