Abortion access has gotten so dire in Oklahoma that women are going to Texas for care

And Oklahoma's drive to become the most "pro-life" state in the country show no signs of slowing

By Katie McDonough

Published October 31, 2013 4:53PM (EDT)

             (AP/Rogelio V. Solis)
(AP/Rogelio V. Solis)

You know things are bad in Oklahoma when women are forced to cross into Texas -- where sweeping new abortion restrictions went into effect this week -- in order to access reproductive healthcare.

And Oklahoma's drive to become the most "pro-life" state in the country show no signs of slowing, as MSNBC's Irin Carmon reports.

While Republican lawmakers like state Rep. Mike Ritze sound off comparing abortion care to Nazi science and declare that the war on women doesn't exist "unless you go to an Arab country,” women like Jessica Davis -- the women Ritze was elected to serve -- are being forced to use their life savings to pay for abortion care that is no longer accessible in their home state.

More from MSNBC:

Earlier that month, at home in Oklahoma City, the Davises were told that the boy she was carrying had a severe brain malformation known as holoprosencephaly. It is rare, though possible, for such a fetus to survive to birth, but doctors told them that he would not reach his first birthday. “He would never walk, lift his head,” Jessica, 23, recalled in an interview.

“I could let my son go on and suffer,” she said. Or she could accept a word she didn’t like -- abortion -- “and do the best thing for my baby.”

The Davises’ ordeal was always going to be painful. But the grim path that led them to a night in the car was determined, nearly every step of the way, by a state that has scrambled to be the most “pro-life” in the nation. There are no exceptions for families like the Davises.


The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, where the Davises were diagnosed, once provided later abortions for women whose fetuses had been diagnosed with lethal anomalies. It is now forbidden from doing so by a 2007 law banning abortions in public hospitals.

A second law, passed in 2011, banned abortions statewide after the 20-week mark of a pregnancy on the theory that fetuses could feel pain at that point. In Oklahoma, that law has no exceptions for fetal anomaly.

Oklahoma lawmakers have made such a sport of passing increasingly draconian abortion restrictions that they were reprimanded by the state Supreme Court for "so flagrantly violating the terms of the Oklahoma Constitution” with such measures.

"We are growing weary of admonishing the Legislature," the court wrote in 2010. “It is a waste of time for the Legislature and the Court, and a waste of the taxpayer’s money.”

You can read the rest here.

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Abortion Abortion Care Abortion Rights Oklahoma