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Abortion Bans


Oklahoma has amended the penalty provision of its pre-Roe abortion ban, but has not repealed the ban, which is unconstitutional and unenforceable.

The unenforceable ban provides that any person who administers to any woman, or who prescribes for any woman, or advises or procures any woman to take any medicine, or who uses or employs any instrument with the intent to cause an abortion not necessary to preserve the woman's life shall be guilty of a felony.  Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, § 861 (Enacted 1910; Last Amended 1999).  A woman who solicits or submits to an abortion not necessary to preserve her life may be imprisoned for up to one year, fined up to $1000, or both.  Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, § 862 (Enacted 1910).

State and federal courts held that these laws are unconstitutional.  Jobe v. State, 509 P.2d 481 (Okla. Crim. App. 1973); Henrie v. Derryberry, 358 F. Supp. 719 (N.D. Okla. 1973).


Oklahoma outlaws abortion after 20 weeks without an adequate exception to protect women's health or for cases in which the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.  Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 63, § 1-745.1 (Enacted 2011).

Oklahoma's law makes abortion after 20 weeks a felony, unless necessary to save a woman's life or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions.  Physicians in violation of the law would be guilty of a felony of an undefined class.  In addition, the law allows the woman or the man involved in the pregnancy to bring a civil suit for damages against the physician.  It also allows the woman, her parents, her husband, her siblings, her guardian, her other health-care providers, or the state attorney general to file for injunctive relief blocking the abortion provider from providing abortion care after 20 weeks in future instances.  Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 63, § 1-745.1 (Enacted 2011).

Oklahoma also has an unconstitutional and unenforceable ban that outlaws abortion procedures as early as 12 weeks.  Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, § 684 (Enacted 1998).

Oklahoma's ban is unconstitutional according to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Stenberg v. Carhart.  530 U.S. 914 (2000).  In Stenberg, the court held that a similar ban, which had no exception to protect a woman's health and was written so broadly as to ban more than one procedure, placed an undue burden on a woman's right to choose.

Oklahoma's unconstitutional law makes any abortion procedure that falls within a broad definition a crime, unless necessary to save the life of a woman endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury.  Penalties include a fine of $10,000, imprisonment for up to two years, or both.  Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, § 684 (Enacted 1998).

There is also a Federal Abortion Ban, which applies nationwide regardless of state law.  The federal ban prohibits certain second-trimester abortion procedures and has no exception for a woman's health.  In April 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ban, making it the first time since Roe v. Wade that the court has upheld a ban on a previability abortion procedure. Click here to read more about the Federal Abortion Ban.

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