Texas Patients Flock to Oklahoma, Where Advocates Are Suing to Keep Abortion Legal

Five new laws will make legal abortion impossible to access in Oklahoma, unless a state court blocks them before November 1.

Photo of Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt
The abortion restrictions that Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law earlier this year are now being challenged in Oklahoma state court. Alex Wong/Getty Images

UPDATE, October 4: An Oklahoma state judge blocked two abortion bans but allowed others to go into effect. HB 1102 and the six-week abortion ban were blocked.

Last week the Supreme Court, under the cover of night, functionally overturned Roe v. Wade by allowing Texas SB 8, a six-week abortion ban, to go into effect. While the immediate impact is on Texans, it won’t be long before other states follow suit. Oklahoma, which has five new anti-abortion laws set to take effect November 1, will likely be one of them.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who has boasted of being the most pro-life governor,” signed the wave of abortion restrictions in the spring. Now the Center for Reproductive Rights, along with Planned Parenthood Federation of America and several other groups, is challenging those laws in Oklahoma state court.

The advocates filed a lawsuit last Thursday and asked the court to block the unconstitutional abortion restrictions before they go into effect. The five laws, which include a six-week abortion ban, would make legal abortion inaccessible in Oklahoma. Here are the others:

  1. HB 1102 says providing an abortion at any stage in pregnancy qualifies as “unprofessional conduct” for a physician, and it will result in their license being suspended for at least a year. This will act as a total abortion ban by almost entirely preventing doctors from providing abortion care.
  2. HB 1904 would allow only board-certified OB-GYNs to provide abortions, decimating abortion access by disqualifying all other highly trained providers.
  3. SB 778 and SB 779 contain a long list of restrictions on medication abortion aimed at making it harder to access. Two provisions—an admitting privileges requirement and an extra-restrictive ultrasound requirement—have already been struck down by the Oklahoma or U.S. supreme courts.

“The Oklahoma Supreme Court has found time and again that the state legislature’s extreme attempts to restrict abortion are unconstitutional,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “These laws would end abortion access in Oklahoma, forcing patients to travel great distances and cross state lines to get essential health care.”

Oklahoma borders Texas, and its abortion clinics are already seeing a spike in out-of-state patients. In Oklahoma City, the Trust Women clinic has filled all appointments for the next three weeks; its co-executive director Rebecca Tong told Vice that phones have been ringing off the hook, and she predicts more than half of the clinic’s patients will come from Texas going forward.

If Oklahoma’s anti-abortion laws are allowed to take effect, the impact would be catastrophic.

This post was adapted for a Twitter thread.