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

Why should I be glad, had she chosen to abort me? I'm not glad your mother didn't consider you an inconvenience. I consider you a sanctimonious ass.

Anonymous

However earnest and sincere one might be in their beliefs about souls or the formation of personhood, the practical fact of the matter is that these arcane religious views eventually run into the wall of common sense.

Anonymous

Firstly science does NOT tell us so, and many of the worlds leading developmental scientists do NOT think that. Your pulling that out of your ass. Frankly I wouldn't care if my mother aborted me before birth, because I wasn't ALIVE THEN. Even If I did believe that they were alive, more importantly our laws have a very important practice of body autonomy, where the government has no right to your body even when it would improve society or save another citizen. You can't order someone to give blood, bone marrow, or even donate your organs after you die. You shouldn't order a women to give up her womb, blood supply, and nutrition for a blastocyte or fetus. Im sure your next flawed argument is that they made the choice to have sex, or whatever, but that doesn't refute right to your body. Even If I caused a car accident that would kill another person unless I gave up my blood/kidney/bone marrow/literally any body part I WOULD NOT BE REQUIRED BY LAW TO SAVE THEM. Also, the majority of women don't get abortions because on inconvenience. It is a very difficult and heartbreaking decision that many women make for their future and with the future of the child in mind. You want to ACTUALLY (with scientifically prove results not this bull crap) you fund sex education, easier child care, better foster care and adoption services (because the US's system SUCKS), and free birth control these things have been proven to work at reducing abortions. Making abortions illegal DOES NOT REDUCE THE NUMBER OF ABORTIONS. The only thing it does is raise the MMR (maternal mortality rate) from unsafe abortions. How do we know this? other countries have banned abortions after a period where they were legal and we literally witness the results (This happened in several countries like Romania, Brazil, and several other eastern european countries). I mean come on at least do something that isnt wasting tax payer time and money on something that doesn't work!

Anonymous

If you are this passionate about the rights of embryos, why don't you protest outside of a fertility treatment center? Embryos are created to be put in a woman- called IVF. When the couple is done trying, the remaining embryos are discarded. Those of you who are anti choice don't care about those embryos, because it's not about babies/embryos at all. It's about controlling women's sexuality.

Anonymous

As a logical person who understands science (PhD in Anatomy and Cell Biology), I understand that being alive and having a life are two different things. I study clumps of human cells that are alive but do not have a life. Until the clump of cells, or embryo, is viable on its own, outside the mother, it does not have a life. I really wish people who are so appalled by thought of abortion put their efforts into protecting and helping the children who were born into this world. Child poverty, famine, and sex trafficking are depressingly prevalent in this country but that doesn't seem to concern any policy makers.

Anonymous

Going to take a stab in the dark and assume you're male. It's wonderful that *you* think that people get abortions largely because a child is an inconvenience. Did it ever dawn upon you that perhaps they weren't able to care for a child, or maybe their health wasn't up to it? You have a lot to say about it, but perhaps you should try and have some sort of consideration for how the other side of the fence feels. FWIW- most abortions are carried out well before science says it's a person.

Anonymous

"human life begin before birth"??? when? as soon as sperm and egg meets? or 2 weeks later? if you consider it a human life, with rights, then it should have its own share of public fund: medical, etc.

I guss as soon as the child is born, you won't support any public funding laws: food, medical. they are just lazy bunch taken your hard earned money.

TracyG

This is a story about regulating the "art" on bathroom walls.

say-what !

IF men want to control women's reproductive choices we should take away Bibles guns and NASCAR !

Anonymous

Feel free to donate part of your liver to someone who is in need of a transplant. I expect you'll be signing up tomorrow. There is no doubt about it - that person's life is in your hands, and a little thing like risks to your health and your right to choose what to do with your own body should NEVER enter into it, when another person's life is at stake. Get to it.

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