The Oklahoma Supreme Court has overturned two state laws, HB 4327 and SB 1503, which outlawed abortion except in cases of medical emergencies endangering the mother’s life. The decision, made by a 6-3 majority, follows the precedent established in the March case Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice v. Drummond. The ruling emphasized that neither law could be remedied without a complete revision by the court.
The aforementioned precedent from the March case had determined that the Oklahoma Constitution inherently grants a pregnant woman the right to terminate her pregnancy if it’s necessary to preserve her life. However, it was noted that the mere possibility or speculation of a threat to the mother’s life isn’t enough to justify an abortion, but an absolute certainty isn’t required either.
Justice Richard Darby, who was in the minority during the March ruling, stood by the decision of the majority in this case based on the legal principle of stare decisis, or precedent. Despite the Supreme Court’s decision, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond clarified that a statute from 1910, which criminalizes performing an abortion except to save the mother’s life, is still in effect.
Charles McCall, the State Speaker of the House, expressed his disappointment in the verdict, highlighting that both pieces of legislation had the backing of supermajorities in both legislative chambers. McCall stressed that despite the ruling, Oklahoma, being one of the most pro-life states in the nation, will continue advocating for the right to life.
These overturned laws, both signed into law by Governor Kevin Stitt (R-OK) in May 2022, made Oklahoma the state with the most stringent abortion laws in the U.S. The laws were enforced through civil rather than criminal codes, allowing private citizens the right to sue abortion providers within the state.