Oklahoma governor bans abortions
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Oklahoma's Abortion Ban: Is It Legal to Help Oklahomans In Need? Everything You Need to Know

Sophie Hirsh - Author
By

May 26 2022, Published 1:46 p.m. ET

On the night of Wednesday, May 25, Oklahoma’s governor signed an abortion bill into law that bans abortions across the state, with just a few exceptions.

The new law is effective immediately, leaving many wondering what will happen to those who violate it, and either try to obtain an abortion in the state, travel outside of the state for the medical procedure, or perform the procedure. And for that matter, is it legal to help people in Oklahoma who need abortions?

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This is undoubtedly a stressful time for the many people in Oklahoma affected by this new law — here’s what we know so far about the law, exceptions, and how you can help Oklahoma residents in need of essential abortion healthcare.

How to help with Oklahoma abortions
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Oklahoma’s governor has banned abortions statewide, with these exceptions to the new abortion law:

As reported by CNN, bill HB 4327, just signed into law by Oklahoma’s Gov. Kevin Stitt, is one of the strictest abortion bans in the U.S. — as well as a violation of the Roe v. Wade ruling of 1973. It is the first time a state has banned abortion to this extent since 1973, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The new Oklahoma law outlaws abortions at all stages of pregnancy. Contraception and morning-after pills (like Plan B) are not affected by the bill, and are still fully legal in Oklahoma.

There are two exceptions to the new abortion law, as explained by NPR. The first exception is for medical emergencies, in which the abortion would save the life of the pregnant person; the second is for instances in which the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest — in these cases, the assault must be reported to law enforcement.

So unless a pregnant person in Oklahoma has been a victim of one of those traumatic situations, they will not be permitted to get an abortion in-state.

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How to help abortion rights Oklahoma
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What is the penalty for those seeking abortions in Oklahoma?

"The impact will be disastrous for Oklahomans," Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute said about the new law, as per NPR. "It will also have severe ripple effects, especially for Texas patients who had been traveling to Oklahoma in large numbers after the Texas six-week abortion ban went into effect in September."

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According to the text of HB 4327, this new law will “be enforced exclusively through the private civil actions,” meaning that Oklahoma citizens will be responsible for suing those they believe are guilty.

Civil action cannot be brought against the person receiving or seeking an abortion, according to the bill’s text — though it can be brought against everyone else involved.

Anyone who “aids or abets” someone in getting an abortion could face charges — that includes the abortion providers, health center employees, someone who pays for an abortion, and even a family member or friend who accompanies someone to their abortion.

The Center for Reproductive Rights describes this strategy as “a bounty-hunting scheme.”

Anyone found guilty of performing or aiding someone in getting an abortion could be fined at least $10,000 under this new law. Additionally, earlier this year, Gov. Stitt. signed S.B. 612 into law, which is set to take effect later this summer. The law would make providing an abortion a felony, and it could bring about a $100,000 fine, or up to 10 years in prison.

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Multiple abortion rights advocacy groups and other groups have already banded together to file a lawsuit against the state of Oklahoma for its recent anti-abortion rights laws. The Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice v. Oklahoma's plaintiffs include Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice, multiple Planned Parenthood chapters, and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

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Is it legal to travel outside of Oklahoma for abortions?

As of now, there is no law preventing pregnant anyone in the U.S. from traveling to other states to obtain abortions. (Though some lawmakers are reportedly working on abortion-travel bans.) In fact, as mentioned above, Texans in need of abortions have been traveling to Oklahoma for months, ever since Texas enacted a six-week abortion ban.

So, if you are an Oklahoma resident in need of an abortion, you are free to travel to another state to get this medical procedure. You can call Planned Parenthood at 1-800-230-PLAN for free guidance, and check out the National Network of Abortion Funds’ guide on finding a good abortion provider.

That said, not everyone has the time and funds to travel across state lines.

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“Ultimately, who will be prevented from having an abortion under this ban? The people who don’t have the funds or resources to travel out of state,” Tamya Cox–Touré of Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice stated, as shared by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“Abortion bans are systemic discrimination at work,” Cox–Touré continued. “We won’t stop fighting for Oklahomans, especially those who face often insurmountable barriers to accessing abortion: Black people, people of color, people who live in rural areas, and people struggling to make ends meet.”

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Is it legal to help people in Oklahoma seeking abortions? Here’s how to help and where to donate:

If you would like to help someone who lives in Oklahoma obtain an abortion, know that it is now illegal to do so within state lines. However, there is currently no penalty for traveling, so you cannot be charged for either driving someone in need out of state, or for paying for someone in need’s procedure, as long as it is performed outside of Oklahoma (and Texas, unless the pregnant person is less than six weeks along).

If you would like to help Oklahomans in need of abortion healthcare, you can donate to organizations that are helping Oklahomans receive essential abortion care at this time. There’s the National Network of Abortion Funds’ Roe Fund, which provides financial assistance to those in Oklahoma who are not have otherwise able to afford abortions; there’s also Planned Parenthood, which, as mentioned previously, provides free guidance for those seeking abortions, among providing many other services.

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