Oct 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Oklahoma Supreme Court temporarily blocks abortion restrictions

Photo of a protester holding a sign that says "Keep your laws off my body" and wearing a shirt that says "Ruth sent me"

A pro-choice activist demonstrates outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 4. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked three abortion restrictions set to take effect on Nov. 1.

Why it matters: The laws would place new limits on medication-induced abortions and require doctors who perform abortions to attain board certification in obstetrics and gynecology.

Details: Abortion advocates asked the court to put the three restrictions on hold after a district judge temporarily blocked two of the five laws, including a ban of abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

  • Now all five laws, which were enacted in the last legislative session, will remain blocked as the case proceeds.

What they're saying: "The court’s decision today comes as a huge relief," Alan Braid, owner of Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic, said in a statement. "Texas has shown us the heartbreaking consequences of what happens when a state bans abortion. Even Oklahomans are suffering from the Texas ban, which has created backlogs of patients here and in other surrounding states."

  • "[T]he state Supreme Court did precisely what the legal system is designed to do: block unconstitutional laws and ensure that our patients will be able to get the health care they deserve," added Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains.
  • "But this fight is not over: Oklahomans still must contend with numerous barriers to essential reproductive health care. We will continue fighting for them in every way possible."

The big picture: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' restrictive abortion law, but left the law in place in the meantime.

  • All of this is likely to end with significant new restrictions on abortion and a clear path for Republican-led states to win the next big abortion cases too — the culmination of a long and bitter fight for control of the judiciary, Axios' Sam Baker writes.

Worth noting: Clinics in Oklahoma have reported a massive influx of patients traveling from Texas, according to the lawsuit. One Oklahoma clinic has reported that two-thirds of the phone calls they receive are now from Texas patients. 

Go deeper