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Oklahoma court finds recent abortion bans are unconstitutional

The state Supreme Court found language in the laws conflicted with one of its earlier rulings.
Oklahoma court finds recent abortion bans are unconstitutional
Posted at 3:00 PM, May 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-31 17:03:05-04

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that two abortion bans in the state are unconstitutional because their language conflicts with that of an earlier court ruling.

The laws banning abortion required that a woman be experiencing a "medical emergency" in order for a doctor to legally provide an abortion. This language conflicts with a March ruling from the state Supreme Court, which found that the state constitution gives an "inherent right of a pregnant woman to terminate a pregnancy when necessary to preserve her life."

The 6-3 ruling helps clarify language around abortion care, which has made it difficult for doctors in Oklahoma and in other states to know when it's legal to provide abortion care. In Oklahoma, Texas and some other states doctors often had to wait to treat women who were already ill or facing a nonviable pregnancy, until their condition got even worse.

SEE MORE: Nevada Republican governor makes rare move with abortion protections

The decision also halts certain rules under which a person in Oklahoma could sue anyone who either performed or helped perform an abortion.

While the two laws have been deemed unconstitutional, Oklahoma state law still holds that abortions are a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, except in cases in which a woman must obtain one because it's "necessary to preserve her life."

SEE MORE: South Carolina's governor signs new law restricting abortion access


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