OKLAHOMA CITY — Abortion-law guidance issued Wednesday by Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor’s office says prosecutors should give “substantial leeway” to doctors who treat pregnant women in life-threatening emergencies and should consult with the Attorney General’s Office before initiating prosecution.
The guidance also indicates that people who simply advocate for abortion rights are safe from prosecution under Oklahoma’s new laws.
The Attorney General’s Office issued the guidance to law enforcement on Wednesday in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the enactment of new state abortion laws.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 24 that the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit states from regulating or prohibiting abortion, overturning the law established by its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which had legalized abortion nationwide.
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Senate Bill 612, which recently took effect as law in Oklahoma, would impose a punishment of up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 for anyone found guilty of performing an abortion.
Oklahoma also has enacted laws approving civil damages against those who perform or facilitate abortions.
Saying the guidance was necessary due to misinformation, O’Connor reiterated that Oklahoma laws do not allow for the prosecution or punishment of a woman who has an abortion or seeks one.
The prohibitions also do not apply, the guidance says, to unintentional miscarriages; miscarriage management, such as the removal of a dead fetus; ectopic pregnancies and treatments; in vitro fertilization or other fertility treatments; or prescription contraception, including Plan B, which is taken after intercourse but before fertilization occurs.
Abortion is authorized under criminal law only when it is necessary to save the life of the mother, according to the guidance.
“Medical doctors, in particular, should be given substantial leeway to treat pregnant women experiencing life-threatening or emergency physical conditions, using their reasoned medical judgement, so long as they are not unnecessarily terminating the life of the unborn child or abusing their position to intentionally facilitate elective abortions,” the guidance says.
If a life-threatening exception arises, prosecutors and law enforcement are encouraged to consult with O’Connor’s office before initiating prosecution, it says.
While state law prohibits aiding and abetting the commission of an unlawful abortion, “district attorneys and law enforcement should entirely refrain from investigating or prosecuting persons engaging in general advocacy in favor of abortion,” the guidance says.
The state’s criminal abortion prohibitions do not contain exceptions for rape, sexual assault or incest.
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