“Oklahoma law enforcement is and should be focused on ending elective abortion in Oklahoma,” said O’Connor in the release. The Attorney General’s memo made it clear that an abortion in Oklahoma is only okay when “it is necessary to save the life of a mother in an emergency.”
O’Connor provided the below guidance on how law authorities can respond to alleged violations of the state’s anti-abortion laws.
O’Connor emphasized that none of the laws, civil or criminal, punish the mother in connection with an abortion.
The memo details that agencies should criminally prosecute anyone “who intentionally performs, attempts to perform, or assists with the performance of elective or on-demand” abortions in the state.
“One of the most devastating consequences of these laws is that people and physicians, particularly emergency room physicians, are afraid. They don’t know if a situation is likely to be questioned after the fact by a prosecutor,” said Rabia Muqaddam with the Center of Reproductive Rights.
Another guideline bans aiding and abetting an unlawful abortion, which could include suggesting a pregnant woman get one. The document also outlines that an instance of rape, sexual assault or incest is not an exception to these rules.
“It appears that there is no exception for any of those circumstances under the criminal bans. So, even though that exception exists in the text of House Bill 4327, it’s not clear what kind of application it would have,” said Muqaddam. “The only exception is for a medical problem.”
“This guidance document is a clear reaction to the fact that these laws have caused very real confusion on the ground among people, physicians and many others,” added Muqaddam.
O’Connor is providing the guidance after major changes to abortion laws in the state and across the nation, including the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade with their Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, and Gov. Kevin Stitt signing multiple bills into law, criminalizing abortion.
A state trigger law criminalizing abortion went into effect in 1910, and was reactivated when the Supreme Court overturned Roe in 2022.
A new state law that went into effect last week, making performing an abortion a felony that could lead to a doctor being sentenced to prison for 10 years or face a $100,000 fine.
A news release from O’Connor’s office also listed the following areas that do not fall under Oklahoma’s criminal and civil abortion laws:
- Unintentional miscarriages;
- Ectopic pregnancies and related treatments;
- In vitro fertilization (IVF); or
- Contraception, including Plan B.