On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that two laws passed last year that outlaw the majority of abortions are unconstitutional.
However, a statute issued in 1910 that still forbids most abortions in the state, unless they are required to save the mother’s life, is unaffected by the decision. The laws that the court overturned were civil laws whose enforcement depended on lawsuits by ordinary people. Each had made an exception in the event of a “medical emergency.” But in their 6-3 decision, the judges objected to that phrase, saying it suggested the exceptions were too limited. Without elaborating on the need for it, they argued that a woman had a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy in order to preserve her life.
In advance of the United States, a number of Republican-led states, including Oklahoma, sought to outlaw abortion. Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Oklahoma Supreme Court last year. Legal challenges soon followed, and several of them were heard by state supreme courts. These courts now play a crucial role in deciding who has access to abortions and have opened a new front in the political fight over abortion in the country. Courts in certain conservative states have ruled that abortion rights are protected by state constitutions.
Difficulty in treating patients
The ruling also brought to light the complex legal issues surrounding how abortion prohibitions and exceptions might be applied when a woman’s life is in danger. Doctors in other states that forbid abortions claimed it was difficult to treat patients without going against the law.
Rabia Muqaddam of the Centre for Reproductive Rights, who served as the principal attorney for the parties contesting the law, stated, “We hope that this decision provides some clarity and that doctors can move forward.” Now that they can trust their medical judgment, they may provide care to patients who are dealing with challenging medical circumstances.