New Oklahoma law requires anti-abortion messages in all public bathrooms
A new anti-abortion public awareness campaign is taking aim at Oklahoma’s public bathrooms.
According to the terms of a new law, all restaurants, public buildings, hospitals, and small businesses will need to install signs that point out various family planning resources for pregnant women as an alternative to abortion.
The rule is part of the Humanity of the Unborn Child Act, which Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin signed into law on Monday. It requires all bathrooms overseen by the Department of Health to post the signs by January 2018.
The signs will read: “There are many public and private agencies willing and able to help you carry your child to term and assist you and your child after your child is born, whether you choose to keep your child or to place him or her for adoption. The State of Oklahoma strongly urges you to contact them if you are pregnant.”
The signs will also include a link the Department of Health’s website, which has a list of adoption and family planning services in the area.
The text of the Humanity of the Unborn Child Act says it is part of a public health campaign “for the purpose of achieving an abortion-free society” that will “clearly and consistently teach that abortion kills a living human being.”
The law was supported by Oklahomans for Life, an organization that has backed other bills restricting abortion. Its website lists 43 “pregnancy resource centers” in Oklahoma that offer counseling to women with unwanted pregnancies.
There are currently four abortion providers in the state.
“The abortion industry has gone to great lengths over the years to dehumanize the baby in the eyes of the public in order to desensitize pregnant women to what it is and what it does,” said Tony Lauinger, the chairman of Oklahomans for Life.
The law is already receiving pushback because it does not allocate any state funding for the signs; instead, it leaves it up to the businesses themselves to foot the bill, an estimated $2.3 million dollars total.
“We don’t have any concern about the information they’re trying to get out to women about their babies and their pregnancy. This is just the wrong way to do it,” Jim Hooper, president of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association, told the AP. “It’s just another mandate on small businesses. It’s not just restaurants. It includes hospitals, nursing homes. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Fallin signed the Humanity of the Unborn Child Act into law a day before Oklahoma’s Supreme Court struck down another law restricting abortion in the state. The law required doctors who perform the procedure to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, which would have forced many of the remaining providers to close. The law was challenged in court by the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the Humanity of the Unborn Child Act was an attempt to restrict abortion in Oklahoma, having nothing to do with public education.
“This is the government using its police power to shame and stigmatize women who seek abortion care, plain and simple,” Allen said. “If the state truly cared about women’s health, they would provide accurate, unbiased information about access to the full range of reproductive health care services, including contraception, prenatal care, and abortion.”
Oklahoma’s child care services are ranked number one in the country for standards and oversight, according to a report by the state’s Department of Health Services last year. In 2015, Oklahoma spent $126 million on child care subsidies.