Oklahoma Tightens Laws to Deny Teenagers Abortion Rights
Starting today, girls in Oklahoma under the age of 18 will be forced to abide by stricter parental consent laws in order to obtain an abortion.
The Oklahoma Board of Health voted in early October to update the state's previous parental notification laws. The laws will now require girls seeking abortions to have their parents provide government-issued identification and written documentation that proves he or she is the parent, has been notified, and consents to the procedure. The board voted to require that in cases of emergency, a doctor can go ahead and perform an abortion, but the parents must be notified afterwards by mail.
Minors may receive a judicial waiver of the parental notification requirement only under three circumstances: if there is a medical emergency, if the minor is a victim of abuse or neglect, or if a judge finds by clear and convincing evidence that the minor is sufficiently mature and well-informed to decide whether to have an abortion. These circumstances are open to interpretation, and they can put vulnerable teens in danger.
Earlier this month, a 16-year-old girl in Nebraska's foster care system was denied an abortion when a lower court judge - who had previously been an attorney for anti-abortion extremist group Operation Rescue - found that the girl was not mature and informed enough to make the decision to have an abortion, despite strong evidence to the contrary. She will be forced to carry her pregnancy to term.
"Quite ironically, the legislature seems to be saying that an immature teen cannot have an abortion but can become a parent," Martha Skeeters, president of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, told RH Reality Check.
Media Resources: The Oklahoman 10/9/13; Open States; Feminist Newswire 10/7/13; RH Reality Check 10/18/13