Lawmakers in the GOP-majority Oklahoma legislature passed a bill Thursday that would triple the state-mandated waiting period for women seeking abortions.
HB 1409, sponsored by Rep. Lisa Billy (R-Purcell), would increase the waiting period for a woman seeking an abortion from 24 hours to 72 hours. All of the requirements for the state-mandated forced counseling would have to be satisfied 72 hours before the abortion is performed.
“I just think before you have any kind of surgery you need to have all the information in your hand before you make that irrevocable decision,” Billy said, as reported by the Oklahoman. “Unfortunately abortion clinics have not historically provided facts and information to women.”
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice opposed the bill and released a statement before its passage saying that it is an “insult to women, suggesting that they have not given extensive thought before deciding to end their pregnancy.”
“It’s really about shame and the government trying to coerce a woman into delaying care she has already decided she needs,” Amanda Allen, state legislative counsel for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, told the Oklahoman. “The message that this bill really sends is that the Legislature and the government are second-guessing a woman’s ability to decide for herself.”
The anti-choice bill was passed by an overwhelming 75-3 vote Thursday as lawmakers in the house approved the amended version of the bill, which the senate passed in April by a vote of 41-4.
Republicans dominate both chambers of the state legislature, holding a 72-29 majority in the house and a 40-7 majority in the senate.
The legislation requires the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision to update the state-mandated printed materials that physicians are required to give to pregnant woman so that they state that “abortion shall terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”
Clinics providing abortion care that maintain a website would be required to include a link to the board’s site that provides the informed consent materials. The link must read:
The State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision maintains a website containing information about the development of the unborn child, as well as video of ultrasound images of the unborn child at various stages of development. The Board’s website can be reached by clicking here.
The website includes information about various anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers, which disseminate misinformation to pregnant women considering abortion, but includes no information regarding obtaining abortion services. The site also has misleading information about the supposed link between abortion and breast cancer, which has been debunked.
Several bills have been introduced in state legislatures nationwide to create or increase waiting periods before a woman can seek abortion care. Republicans in the North Carolina house recently passed a 72-hour waiting period bill in a party line vote. Oklahoma would be the first to pass such legislation this year.
Oklahoma may now become the fourth state to mandate a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion. Only Missouri, South Dakota, and Utah currently have 72-hour waiting periods.
The bill now goes to anti-choice Gov. Mary Fallin (R), who is expected to sign the legislation. “In general I support pro-life legislation, so I’m looking forward to reading it,” Fallin said to the Oklahoman.
Last month, Fallin signed a bill to ban a medical procedure used after a miscarriage and during second-trimester abortions, and has signed several other pieces of anti-choice legislation during her time in office.