Friday, September 02, 2022

AG O'Connor releases guidance for law enforcement on new abortion laws

Attorney General O’Connor Releases Guidance for Law Enforcement After Newest Abortion Law Takes Effect

OKLAHOMA CITY (August 31st) – Today, Attorney General John O’Connor criticized the ongoing campaign by the abortion industry and others to confuse and mislead the public about abortion laws, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent historic overturning of Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. He also released a guidance document for law enforcement after the State’s most recent abortion law became effective.

“The Dobbs decision was an amazing victory for America’s unborn children and for our right to make policy decisions through our elected representatives,” said Attorney General O’Connor. “Unfortunately, we cannot bring back to life the 60 million American children who never saw the light of day, due to the travesty of abortion. Sadly, the abortion industry continues its misleading media campaign regarding pro-life laws in Oklahoma and elsewhere.”

Oklahoma criminalized abortion in 1910 and that law remains in effect (21 O.S. § 861). A new law criminalizing abortion, with increased penalties, took affect this past weekend (63 O.S. § 1-731.4). Ending the life of an unborn child in Oklahoma is a crime, unless it is necessary to preserve the mother’s life. Oklahoma has also enacted laws approving private civil damages against those who perform or assist in performing abortions in Oklahoma.

“None of our laws—civil or criminal—punish the mother in connection with an abortion,” emphasized General O’Connor. 

In addition, Oklahoma’s criminal and civil abortion laws do not apply to:

  • Unintentional miscarriages;
  • Ectopic pregnancies and related treatments;
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF); or
  • Contraception, including Plan B.

Unfortunately, despite Oklahoma law being clear on these subjects, the Attorney General’s Office has learned of several instances where women and doctors in Oklahoma are being told otherwise. This has been happening nationwide as well. Since Dobbs, National Review has reported, “there has been a lot of viral misinformation spread on social media that women with ectopic pregnancies and other life-threatening conditions are not authorized to receive treatment in states with laws limiting or banning abortion.”

With Oklahoma’s most recent abortion prohibition taking effect, the Attorney General also issued guidance today to law enforcement about how to approach the prosecution of those who do abortions in Oklahoma. The guidance makes clear that Oklahoma law enforcement is and should be focused on ending elective abortion in Oklahoma, and that other scenarios are either not illegal or should be handled with “careful discretion” and in consultation with the Attorney General’s office.

General O’Connor noted that the above statements do not constitute an official Attorney General Legal Opinion.


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