Editor’s note: A previous version of this story had misspellings. This has since been corrected.
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Governor Kevin Stitt warned of Tribes setting up “abortion on-demand” clinics in an attempt to circumvent new Oklahoma laws banning abortion on Fox News Sunday morning while discussing abortion and the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision.
The governor said that Oklahomans would not look favorably on the Native Nations if they were to set up abortion clinics.
“The Tribes in Oklahoma are super liberal. They go to Washington DC. They talk to President Biden in the White House, they kind of adopt those strategies,” continued Stitt.
The Cherokee Nation responded Monday:
“Speculating on what tribes should do based on a leaked US Supreme Court draft decision is irresponsible. Just as irresponsible is the Governor of Oklahoma and his disguised media campaign which is really meant to attack tribes and our sovereignty.”
The discussion stems from two legal events.
The first being the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision.
The McGirt ruling stated that crimes committed on tribal lands cannot be prosecuted by state or local law enforcement. The only jurisdiction would be tribal courts and federal courts.
The second event is the Roe v. Wade decision that was leaked this month.
After Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the legitimacy of Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked opinion of overruling Roe v. Wade, advocates of abortion access have begun making plans to keep options on the table for women seeking the procedure.
The legal reality of setting up an abortion clinic on Tribal lands is complicated.
Indian Health Services is under the Department of Health and Human Services, so their clinics cannot be used for abortion because of existing federal law barring federal funds used for abortion.
If there were to be a clinic set up on Tribal lands, it would need to be privately paid for.
Ed Blau, legal expert in Oklahoma City, said the state would have powers to prevent or deter abortions by doctors within the tribes.
“If it’s illegal in a state and yet Tribal members are performing abortions, there’s nothing to stop the state from revoking that doctor’s license,” said Blau.
Outside of legality, there is also Tribal politics.
Blau highlighted the fact that Tribal leaders are democratically elected. Any decision to set up an abortion clinic would generally need to be supported by the members of the Native communities.
“Cherokee Nation is focused on decisions already rendered, such as McGirt, warranting the expansion of our criminal justice system and protection of citizens living within our reservation.”Cherokee Nation