I had barely had my first sip of coffee on Friday morning when I received a text message that made my jaw drop.
“Heath, I’m in trouble. I’m pregnant.”
As a woman in her mid-40s and already a mother of three, my girlfriend—whose name I’m withholding pending possible legal ramifications—was concerned about the dangers of late-onset pregnancy. Two of her children were already out of high school, and she was not in a healthy position physically, mentally, and emotionally to have another baby.
A day earlier, the Oklahoma legislature passed legislation banning nearly all abortions from the point of fertilization. The law allows individuals to sue abortion providers or anyone who “supports or encourages” an abortion, and if signed by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, it would go into effect immediately.
Given previous statements that he would sign any legislation restricting abortion, Oklahoma is likely to be the toughest anti-abortion jurisdiction in the United States.
After all, the governor passed two more abortion measures earlier this year, including one that mirrors Texas law that allows individuals to take bounties and sue abortion providers if pregnancies are terminated after six weeks. Stitt also signed another law into law making performing any abortion that doesn’t involve a medical emergency a crime in the state, though it won’t go into effect until this summer.
My friend explained that she called Trust Women, an Oklahoma City clinic that provides abortion services, and was told that although the governor has not yet signed the new law into law, he expects to do so soon. Because of the state’s mandatory 72-hour wait time, they didn’t want to make any more appointments. (I called the clinic and got the same answer.)
Instead, my friend was referred to a clinic in Wichita, Kansas. However, due to high demand and the influx of women fleeing restrictive states to seek treatment, she was told she would have to wait more than a week or two to get an appointment, she said.
But my friend found a solution. Next week she’s leaving for New England on a pre-planned trip, and the state she’s visiting still has legal abortion services. With a simple phone call, she was able to make an appointment.
Not all women faced with a difficult decision are as lucky as she is. Many do not have the means to travel abroad or to very distant countries for reproductive care.
“Other women will not be able to understand the logistics and will either be forced to carry a pregnancy against their will or they will attempt to abort without medical support,” said Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains. which serves Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas, The Daily Beast said. “That should never happen in a civilized society like ours. Not being able to have an honest conversation with your healthcare provider, especially one trained in this care, is a terrifying experience for people.”
According to Wales, Planned Parenthood Great Plains and other providers have already filed lawsuits challenging the restrictive laws in Oklahoma and beyond. But even though the new law says women can’t be sued for using abortion services, my friend still worries that she might be somehow liable in the future.
“It’s Russian roulette and I’m worried about my health,” she said, adding, “It’s scary.”
In fact, the new Oklahoma law requires civilians to file lawsuits instead of allowing the state to file criminal charges. But it is clear that on the one hand the abortion providers in the state are shutting up and on the other hand even wealthy people are being scared off.
Making matters worse for those hoping to challenge a new law: The potential reversal of Roe v. calfas teased in a leaked draft advisory earlier this month, and the reality of a Supreme Court uniquely hostile to abortion rights.
“The Supreme Court has had the Texas case a number of times now with the ability to intervene and they have declined to do so, which makes it a really uphill battle for us to challenge any of these vigilante laws,” Wales said.
“One of the things we need to think about is organizing at the state level so the public can see that these bans are going to harm people,” she added.
Numerous states already have “trigger bills” in place to ban or partially ban abortion services should the US Supreme Court overturn Roe, as is now generally expected. But for some people in my state, the worst-case scenario is on the horizon.
As my friend put it, “You are creating a situation in this state where the consequences will be devastating, not only for the women but for the children they must bear.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-urgent-terror-of-a-surprise-pregnancy-in-oklahoma?source=articles&via=rss The urgent horror of a surprise pregnancy in Oklahoma