Oklahoma Just Passed a Law Requiring Private Businesses to Turn Their Bathrooms Into Billboards for Anti-Abortion Propaganda

The Oklahoma Legislature has outdone itself this time. In the latest of their absurd and callous efforts to shame and stigmatize women, Oklahoma legislators from both parties have passed into law a requirement that commands thousands of private businesses to turn their bathroom walls into billboards for anti-abortion propaganda.

As part of a misguided effort to reduce the number of abortions in Oklahoma, Rep. Ann Coody and Sen. AJ Griffin introduced HB 2797 — the “Humanity of the Unborn Child Act.” Among other troubling provisions, the new law requires public schools, hospitals, restaurants, and nursing homes to post signs in their restrooms directing women to services aimed at discouraging abortion.

It’s difficult to see what possible purpose this law could serve other than to shame and dissuade women from accessing their constitutionally protected right to a safe and legal medical procedure. The same legislation also requires the Oklahoma Department of Health to develop and distribute “educational” materials that “clearly and consistently teach that abortion kills a living human being.”

Shaming women and limiting their right to access medically necessary health care is certainly nothing new for the state of Oklahoma. From 20-week bans to outrageous TRAP laws and from annual attempts to grant full rights to a fetus to threatening doctors who perform abortions with felonies, the Oklahoma Legislature is as persistent as they are imprudent.

What’s new this time around is their attempt to conscript private businesses in their war on Oklahoma’s women. The requirement that many businesses, including restaurants, post signs that advance a backwards and misogynist agenda amounts to forced political speech, which is impermissible under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Requiring business owners to communicate a biased statement to their patrons falls well outside the state’s interest to regulate health and safety in these businesses. The ACLU of Oklahoma is considering a range of legal options to halt this government command to display its propaganda on bathroom walls.

Upon receiving the news that her unfunded mandate would cost businesses and chronically impoverished schools an estimated $2.3 million, Sen. Griffin indicated a willingness to revise the legislation to reduce the burden on businesses. While we certainly welcome any opportunity to reconsider the merits of this ludicrous new law, it is disheartening that the majority of Oklahoma’s legislators are unwilling to stand up for women unless doing so happens to align with monied business interests.

In the apparent absence of any desire to approach reproductive health care sensibly and with the rights of women in mind, we will continue to fight threats to Oklahoma’s women however they appear. 

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Anonymous

Best way to prevent abortions? Accurate sex ed, which prevents more unwanted pregnancies and has the added bonus of preventing the spread of many stds. Medically necessary abortions aren't anyone's business but the families and their health care providers.

Anonymous

Yes. I'm surprised the state of Oklahoma just doesn't mandate SAFE SEX signs all over the place. what in the world. thanks for commenting - it has me getting involved! take care.

Anonymous

The law makes sense. I applaud them.

Anonymous

In what way does it make sense? How many terminated pregnancies have you needed? I wish ur mom would have had one.

Anonymous

No It doesn't. If these signs are only required to be posted in state owned places, this would be fine. The only issue is forcing private business to display a politically motivated message. I am pro life but coercion of private businesses to express a particular political belief is clearly unconstitutional. The abortion battle must be won in the courts or by passage of a constitutional amendment, unfortunately.

Anonymous

I bet you don't have a full head of teeth... That's the way to find the inbred idiots in Oklahoma...

Anonymous

Seriously? No one should have a choice, but be "told" not to have an abortion. Live in the real world. This is utter nonsense.

Gladiatrix

Compelled speech, much? Welcome to der Dtrumpfuher's world!

Anonymous

It's still President Obama's world, but regardless it's a state-level law and doesn't have anything to do with the current ( or future ) administration.

Anonymous

news flash........abortion does kill a human being. Why is this so shocking???

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