In 2013, Oklahoma enacted enhancements to their law requiring parental consent before a minor may have an abortion. These enhancements, based on AUL model language, make Oklahoma’s parental consent law one of the strongest in the nation. The law establishes a state-mandated parental consent form that will present both parents and their daughter with the risks associated with abortion. In addition, the new law requires a parent or guardian to provide government-issued proof of identification before a minor’s abortion. Finally, the measure amends the judicial bypass procedure to require that such proceedings be initiated in the county in which a minor resides and sets out specific factors a court must weigh in assessing whether a minor should have an abortion without parental involvement
- Oklahoma possesses an enforceable abortion prohibition should the U.S. Constitution be amended or certain U.S. Supreme Court decisions be reversed or modified.
- Oklahoma bans abortions at or after (i.e.,20-weeks) on the basis of pain experienced by unborn children.
- Oklahoma prohibits partial-birth abortions and sex-selective abortions.
- Oklahoma has amended its definition of “abortion” to include the use of abortion-inducing drugs. It has also amended the definition of “medical emergency” as applied to all of its abortion laws, narrowing the exception to exclude “mental health” and applying it only to cases where a physical condition could cause major impairment of a bodily function or death.
- Oklahoma requires that, 24 hours before an abortion, a woman receive counseling on the medical risks of abortion and pregnancy, the name of the physician performing the abortion, and the gestational age of the unborn child. The woman must also receive information on anatomical and physiological characteristics of fetuses at different stages of development and her right to receive state-prepared materials on potential government benefits, child support, and a list of support agencies and their services.
- Oklahoma has supplemented its informed consent requirements, mandating that women seeking abortions at 5-months gestation or later receive information about fetal pain.
- In December 2012, a law mandating the performance of an ultrasound prior to an abortion and requiring that the image be explained and displayed in a manner so that it is readily visible to the woman was struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The Oklahoma Attorney General has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
- A woman (at 6-weeks or later gestation) must be given an opportunity to hear the heartbeat of her unborn child.
- Abortion clinics must post signs indicating that a woman cannot be coerced into an abortion.
- A physician may not perform an abortion on an unemancipated minor without the written, notarized consent of a parent or guardian. A parent or guardian must provide government-issued proof of identification, and the abortion provider must also sign a document attesting to the quality of the identification provided. Judicial bypass proceedings must be initiated in the county where the minor resides, and justices must consider certain enumerated factors in assessing the maturity of the minor and the specific circumstances of the case. In a medical emergency, abortion providers must notify a parent or guardian of the minor’s abortion no less than 24 hours after the procedure, unless the minor obtains a judicial waiver.
- The state maintains a separate parental notice provision that does not include a judicial bypass procedure.
- Oklahoma law mandates that abortion clinics meet minimal health and safety standards. The regulations prescribe minimum standards for the building or facility, clinic administration, and patient medical evaluations. An additional requirement that abortions after the first trimester be performed in a hospital has been ruled unconstitutional.
- Only physicians licensed to practice medicine in Oklahoma may perform abortions.
- Abortion providers must report specific and detailed information about each abortion and abortion patient including aggregate information on the number of women receiving state abortion counseling materials and the number of abortions exempted from the counseling requirement because of a “medical emergency.” In addition, abortion providers must report specific and detailed information regarding minors’ abortions, including whether physicians received the mandatory parental consent, whether minors sought judicial bypass, and whether or not such bypass was granted. The requirements apply to both surgical and nonsurgical abortions, but do not require that any of this information be reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
- In 2012, Oklahoma enacted a law permitting a woman (or parent or legal guardian, if applicable) to commence a civil action if an abortion provider violates the state’s informed consent law, ultrasound requirement, fetal pain counseling requirement, parental involvement law, or any other law regulating a minor’s abortion.
- Oklahoma follows the federal standard for Medicaid funding for abortions, only permitting the use of federal or state matching Medicaid funds for abortions necessary to preserve the life of the woman or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
- Under Oklahoma law, no public funds can be used to encourage a woman to have an abortion (except to the extent required by federal Medicaid rules).
- Oklahoma law restricts the use of state facilities for the performance of abortions and provides that no state actor may perform an abortion except in cases of life endangerment, incest, or rape. Healthcare providers who are state employees may not provide abortions, abortion referrals, or abortion counseling.
- Oklahoma prohibits taxpayer funding of any entity associated with another entity that provides, counsels, or refers for abortion.
- The state prohibits the use of research grants provided through the “Oklahoma Health Research Act” for abortion.
- Oklahoma prohibits private health insurance coverage for abortions, except in cases of life endangerment.
- The state also prohibits insurance companies from offering abortion coverage within state insurance Exchanges established pursuant to the federal healthcare law, except in cases of life endangerment.
- In 2012, the state enacted a provision prohibiting the use of telemedicine to administer abortion-inducing drugs.
- Oklahoma has directed the state Department of Health to “facilitate funding to nongovernmental entities that provide alternatives to abortion services.” It has also allocated direct taxpayer funding to abortion alternatives.
- The state also offers “Choose Life” license plates, the proceeds of which benefit pregnancy care centers and/or other organizations providing abortion alternatives.
Legal Recognition and Protection of Unborn and Newly Born:
- Oklahoma criminalizes the unlawful killing of an unborn child from “the moment of conception.”
- Oklahoma also criminalizes a nonfatal assault on an unborn child.
- The “Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act” provides an affirmative defense to women who use force to protect their unborn children from a criminal assault.
- Oklahoma allows a wrongful death (civil) action when a viable unborn child is killed through a negligent or criminal act.
- Under Oklahoma law, “the rights to medical treatment of an infant prematurely born alive in the course of an abortion shall be the same as the rights of an infant of similar medical status prematurely born.” Thus, the state has created a specific affirmative duty of physicians to provide medical care and treatment to infants born alive at any stage of development.
- Oklahoma has a “Baby Moses” law, establishing a safe haven for mothers to legally leave their infants at designated places and ensuring that the infants receive appropriate care and protection.
- Oklahoma requires healthcare professionals to report suspected prenatal drug exposure and mandates that the state Department of Human Services investigate when a newborn tests positive for controlled substances.
- The state bans civil causes of action for both “wrongful birth” and “wrongful life.”
- Oklahoma bans human cloning for all purposes, destructive embryo research, and fetal experimentation.
- The state Department of Health has been directed to establish, operate, and maintain a public umbilical cord blood bank or cord blood collection operation. The Department has also been directed to establish a related education program, and each physician is to inform pregnant patients of the opportunity to donate to the public umbilical cord blood bank following delivery.
- The state regulates the donation and transfer of human embryos used in assisted reproductive technologies and establishes that donors of embryos relinquish all parental rights with respect any resulting children.
- Oklahoma regulates assisted reproductive technologies.
End of Life Laws:
- In Oklahoma, assisting a suicide is a felony.
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Laws:
Participation in Abortion:
- Oklahoma’s “Freedom of Conscience Act” provides significant conscience protections for individuals and institutions.
- No person is required to participate in medical procedures that result in or are in preparation for an abortion except when necessary to preserve a woman’s life.
- A private hospital is not required to permit abortions within its facilities.
Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:
- The “Freedom of Conscience Act” provides significant conscience protections for individuals and institutions.
What Happened in 2013:
- Oklahoma enacted legislation, based on AUL model language, which requires a parent or guardian to provide government-issued proof of identification before a minor’s abortion. The measure also amends the judicial bypass procedure to require that such proceedings be initiated in the county in which a minor resides and sets out specific factors a court must weigh in assessing whether a minor should have an abortion without parental involvement.
- The state enacted a separate measure requiring parental notice before abortion, without the option of a judicial bypass.
- Oklahoma amended its abortion reporting statute to require the provision of additional information including a screenshot of the ultrasound image.
- Oklahoma considered legislation prohibiting destructive embryo research.
- Oklahoma enacted a measure prohibiting a healthcare provider from withholding “life-preserving health care”—that the provider makes available to other patients and “the provision of which is directed by the patient” or the patient’s proxy—on a discriminatory basis. Oklahoma considered legislation offering or expanding protection for healthcare payers, but such legislation would not be enforceable against the so-called “HHS mandate” that requires nearly all health insurance plans to provide full coverage (without co-pay) of all “FDA approved contraceptives.”
Recommendations for Oklahoma
Women’s Protection Project Priorities:
- Abortion Patient’s Enhanced Safety Act
- Components of the Child Protection Act related to evidence retention and remedies for third-party interference with parental rights
- Amend the Abortion Inducing Drugs Act.
- Defunding the Abortion Industry and Advancing Women’s Health Act
Legal Recognition and Protection for the Unborn:
- Unborn Wrongful Death Act (for a pre-viable child)
- Egg Provider Protection Act
- Assisted Reproductive Technologies Disclosure and Risk Reduction Act