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Editorial: Supreme Court rewrites new era around abortion, putting focus on reforming Oklahoma's laws

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Abortion Protest

Lindsey Scotney wears an AR-15 on her back while she speaks during a protest against the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade on June 24 outside the Tulsa County Courthouse. Scotney had just bought the firearm and said that she could go in and buy that in about 15 minutes and can’t make decisions about her own body.

Last week’s Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade brought joy and anger to a country already divided.

Anti-abortion activists view this moment as a celebration for a half century’s work to ban abortion. They hold strong philosophical and faith-based beliefs that the procedure is wrong.

For pro-choice advocates, this moment creates a groundswell of frustration, resentment and even fury. They see this as government overreach into a private health care decision by women. They hold different views as to when life begins.

Abortion laws are now decided at the state level, and Oklahoma’s top elected leaders acted swiftly. The state has a total abortion ban except to save the mother’s life. A new civil law allows anyone to sue a person “aiding and abetting” an abortion for a minimum of $10,000, without risk of penalty in losing the case.

We view these laws as too restrictive, particularly on girls and women who are victims of rape and incest. Abortion decisions are made often in heartbreaking and complex conditions. The civil law does nothing more than create a snitch culture to divide a community.

Nationally, one in six Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a recent Pew Research Center report.

In May, a survey from Amber Integrated found 55% of Oklahomans did not want a total abortion ban while 31% supported making it completely illegal. A 2014 Pew Research Center survey shows 51% of Oklahomans said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 45% said it should be illegal in all or most instances and 4% didn’t know.

There’s a disconnect between these moderate Oklahoma perspectives and the firebrand anti-abortion candidates elected to the state Capitol and Congress.

The decision is a turning point for the Supreme Court itself. It is among the rare times the court granted a constitutional right then took it away.

Justice Clarence Thomas in a concurring opinion kicked open the door to re-evaluating the rights to contraception and same-sex relationships. The basis for his argument also would challenge the right of interracial marriage, though he left that out.

The decision is law but won’t end abortions. Half the states are offering and expanding abortion services.

An effect of an abortion ban will be more children born into difficult situations, such as poverty and dysfunctional families. Some will have significant and expensive disabilities that could lead to shortened lives or deaths before or after birth.

A weakness in the anti-abortion movement has been the lack of support for pro-family public policies such as paid family leave, child tax credits, affordable health care and child care, involvement in foster care and substantial investments in public education.

To drastically reduce abortions means preventing unwanted pregnancies. The most effective programs are those providing contraception and education on relationships and sex.

If Oklahoma is going to ban abortion, then leaders must start funding these pro-family and pregnancy prevention programs.

For those motivated by this decision into activism, we offer a reminder that voting and running for office are the most powerful tools in a democracy.


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