Oklahoma Supreme Court strikes down two abortion laws; procedure remains illegal in the state

by Jacob Fuller

Vicky Arias, FISM News

Oklahoma’s Supreme Court on Wednesday voted to strike down two of its state laws restricting abortion. However, the procedure remains illegal in the state.

The laws, known as SB 1503 and HB 4327, were found unconstitutional by the state’s high court due to the “medical emergency” language they used regarding abortion allowances.

In both laws, abortion is allowed if a “medical emergency” is declared in order to save the life of the mother.

SB 1503 bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat is found, or roughly six weeks of pregnancy, unless a medical emergency arises that threatens the life of the mother. HB 4327 makes all abortions illegal, regardless of gestational age, but, similar to SB 1503, allows for abortions to occur if a medical emergency occurs or in cases of “rape, sexual assault, or incest that has been reported to law enforcement.”

The state’s Supreme Court objected to the use of the term “medical emergency,” calling it “extreme,” and stating that Oklahoma law provides an “inherent right of a pregnant woman to terminate a pregnancy when necessary to preserve her life.”


Justice Dustin Rowe disagreed with the majority’s decision. In his dissent, Rowe stated that he found “the majority’s assessment difficult to reconcile, given that SB 1503 gives physicians the discretion to determine if a medical emergency exists.”

The judge continued, commenting on the court’s ruling on HB 4327 as well.

“Finally, with respect to HB 4327, I dissent to the majority’s finding that the act is unconstitutional … The issues presented in this matter are political questions, which are better resolved by the people via our democratic process.”

Despite the state court’s ruling, abortion will remain illegal in Oklahoma due to an overlapping law that was already on the books.

Oklahoma banned abortion in 1910, except in cases that would save the mother’s life, though the state was unable to enforce it until Roe v. Wade was overturned last year and decisions on abortion law were handed back to the states.

Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, released a statement Wednesday expressing his disappointment in the ruling while reiterating his commitment to keeping abortion out of Oklahoma.

“I am disappointed with today’s ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court regarding SB1503 and HB4327,” McCall stated. “A supermajority of members in both chambers supported this legislation that was signed by the governor.”

However, Oklahomans can rest assured that House Republicans will continue to protect the lives of the unborn and pursue legislation that values all life … Oklahoma is one of the most pro-life states in the nation. Today’s ruling won’t change that, and we will continue to be a voice for the voiceless as we strive to protect the right to life in the state of Oklahoma.”