The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Tuesday that abortion is constitutional in cases to save the life of the mother, but not as an elective procedure, The Oklahoman reported.
"We make no ruling on whether the Oklahoma Constitution provides a right to an elective termination of a pregnancy, i.e. one made outside of preserving the life of the pregnant woman as we have defined herein," the news outlet reporting the ruling said. "[There is] an inherent right of a pregnant woman to terminate a pregnancy when necessary to save her life."
According to the report, five justices formed the majority: Yvonne Kauger, James R. Winchester, James E. Edmondson, Douglas L. Combs, and Noma Gurich. Dissenting were Chief Justice M. John Kane IV and Vice Chief Justice Dustin P. Rowe, along with Justices Richard Darby and Dana Kuehn.
The case was brought by abortion providers and reproductive rights groups spearheaded by Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice, the report said.
According to the 501(c)4 non-profit organization, "the Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice is an all-volunteer grassroots organization" that believes "reproductive justice includes the right to have or not to have a child and respect for families in all their forms. It supports access to sexual education, contraception, abortion care and pregnancy care as well as to the resources needed to raise children in safe and healthy circumstances, with good schools and healthcare and other elements necessary for bright futures."
The organization and its partners initially brought the suit against the state to block a total ban on abortions signed into law by GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt in May 2022.
The law lets people sue abortion providers and potentially receive a $10,000 reward for a successful violation prosecution, the Center for Reproductive Rights brief on the case at the time said.
The Oklahoman reported that the court found that state constitution's provision of "all persons have the inherent right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry," allows for a mother to have an abortion if it is medically necessary to save her own life.
"A woman has an inherent right to choose to terminate her pregnancy if at any point in the pregnancy, the woman's physician has determined to a reasonable degree of medical certainty or probability that the continuation of the pregnancy will endanger the woman's life due to the pregnancy itself or due to a medical condition that the woman is either currently suffering from or likely to suffer from during the pregnancy," the ruling said. "Absolute certainty is not required; however, mere possibility or speculation is insufficient."
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