Oklahoma Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Ban, Says There’s No Right to Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 21, 2023   |   3:17PM   |   Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has upheld the state’s abortion ban that saves babies from abortions. Instead of striking down the measure, the state’s highest court clarified that abortions should be allow in extremely rare cases to save the life of the mother — something the pro-life movement has always supported.

Before Roe was overturned, Oklahoma had the distinction of becoming the first in the nation to successfully ban abortions from conception when Governor Kevin Stitt signed its Texas-style abortion ban. But, with the Supreme Court reversing Roe, the state’s trigger ban has gone into effect — which successfully bans abortions without having to rely on a private enforcement mechanism.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday to clarify, but not overturn the state law after abortion activists challenged it in court.

And it ruled nothing in the state constitution has ever indicated there is a right to kill babies in abortions. The state constitution states no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.

However, in its opinion, the court wrote “We hold that the Oklahoma Constitution creates an inherent right of a pregnant woman to terminate a pregnancy when necessary to preserve her life.”

§63-1-731.4 of the Oklahoma state statutes says, “a person shall not purposely perform or attempt to perform an abortion except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency.”

The statute defines medical emergency as “a condition which cannot be remedied by delivery of the child in which an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness or physical injury including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.”

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In a 5-4 decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court justices determined the medical emergency stipulation of to be unconstitutional, therefore it is void and unenforceable.

Regarding that statute, the ruling states, in part:

“‘The language, ‘except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency’ is much different from ‘preserve her life’ found in § 861. It restricts the performance of an abortion to only a pregnant woman who is ‘in a medical emergency’ which includes that her life ‘is endangered.’ We read this section of law to require a woman to be in actual and present danger in order for her to obtain a medically necessary abortion. We know of no other law that requires one to wait until there is an actual medical emergency in order to receive treatment when the harmful condition is known or probable to occur in the future.”

Justices Yvonne Kauger, James R. Winchester, James E. Edmondson, Douglas L. Combs and Noma Gurich all concurred, while Chief Justice M. John Kane IV and Vice Chief Justice Dustin P. Rowe, along with Justices Richard Darby and Dana Kuehn dissented.

You can read the entire ruling here.