Court Upholds Oklahoma's 72-Hour Waiting Period For Abortion Care

photographed by Sage McAvoy.
An Oklahoma court upheld a state law that forces women seeking abortion care to wait 72 hours before they go through with the procedure. House Bill 1409, which went into effect in the fall of 2015, increased Oklahoma's waiting period from one day to three days, making it the fifth state to hold this type of restriction.
Anti-abortion lawmakers argue that waiting periods give women the time to think whether they really want to terminate their pregnancies. However, studies have shown an overwhelming majority of patients are certain of their decision and go ahead with the procedure regardless.
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According to research, women report the delay in care is not of benefit for most of them and instead adds unnecessary financial and logistical hardships. Low-income women are usually the ones who are hit the hardest by extreme abortion restrictions, including waiting periods. Oklahoma's 72-hour delay means that some patients are forced to take several days off of work in order to terminate the pregnancy, which can be detrimental for those who are already struggling financially, and that's without taking into account the large distances some women must travel in order to reach a clinic.
"With only four clinics providing safe and legal abortion services in the entire state, Oklahoma women already face many challenges. This medically unnecessary 72-hour waiting period insults women and adds needless hurdles to accessing abortion care,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement provided to Refinery29. “We will continue to fight for women’s dignity and autonomy to make decisions about their health and their futures, free from political interference.”
At the federal level, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled this summer that the state's 72-hour waiting period was unconstitutional because it placed an undue burden on women seeking abortion care. A similar restriction in Louisiana was also blocked by a federal court.
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