The conservative Oklahoma Supreme Court yesterday struck down two new laws that ban abortions. But fear not, abortion is still essentially illegal in the Sooner State.
In a 6-3 ruling, the Court decided to respect its own precedents. Weird. In March, it ruled that the Oklahoma Constitution gave women the right to terminate pregnancies to save their own lives. The new laws, SB 1603 and HB 4327, allow abortions only in medical emergencies. The Court felt that this was in conflict with its own earlier ruling. The Court also reasoned that if a pregnancy was clearly going to become life threatening sooner or later, doctors would be forbidden from interfering until it actually became life threatening, in which case it would sometimes be too late and the woman would then die.
Both laws made abortion providers liable for civil lawsuits, not criminal prosecution. One of them, HB 4327, created a bounty system patterned on a Texas law that allows anyone to sue anyone who aided an abortion for $10,000. Oklahoma AG Gentner Drummond (R) helpfully reminded Oklahomans that a 1910 law still in effect bans nearly all abortions, so the demise of the new ones don't really change much except that you can't collect $10,000 by suing an abortion provider.
In a bit of a surprise, on Tuesday, Gov. Joe Lombardo (R-NV) signed a bill that protects abortion providers in the state and creates rights for out-of-state patients seeking abortions in Nevada. Lombardo is the only swing-state Republican governor to sign a bill protecting abortion rights in many years. It is possible that Lombardo is good at reading tea leaves and would like to get reelected in 2026. Of course, to get reelected in 2026, he first has to get renominated. That might not be so easy now. The state Republican Party registered horror as the bill was working its way through the state legislature. (V)