The fight against safe abortion access in the U.S. continues. Earlier this month, HB 1441 was tabled in the Oklahoma legislature. The bill demands that a person seeking an abortion provide "written informed consent of the father of the fetus" before the procedure can be performed. It also requires that patients submit "the identity of the father of the fetus" to their abortion provider. The person named can then call for a paternity test if they dispute being identified as the father, an action which would effectively delay the abortion. Members of Oklahoma's House Public Health Committee are scheduled to vote on the bill on Valentine's Day.
According to The Intercept, remarks from the bill's author, Rep. Justin Humphrey, included him referring to women as "hosts," adding, in regards to abortion:
I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.
It remains to be seen how far the bill will progress. But even if it does fail to pass, just the fact that HB 1441 was proposed bodes ill for the future of abortion law in the U.S.
If passed, HB 1441 would restrict abortion in a state where it is already so hard to access. According to the Guttmacher Institute's 2014 data, over half of Oklahoma women live in counties without any abortion providers at all. And those who can get to a clinic must endure pre-abortion counseling, a 72-hour waiting period, obtaining parental consent for minors, and for many, finding a way to pay for it without insurance coverage. All of this happens in what the anti-abortion organization Americans United for Life named the country's "most protective" (i.e. most anti-abortion) state.
Understandably, reproductive rights advocates and supporters around the country are horrified at the possibility that HB 1441 could become law, and are jumping into action. The Planned Parenthood Great Plains Oklahoma chapter is leading the fight, encouraging supporters to call the state's representatives to express opposition to the bill.
With an anti-abortion president in the White House and an anti-abortion judge nominated to join the Supreme Court, more and more bills like HB 1441 are bound to pop up across the country. And since it seems like people's ownership of their bodies, especially that of women and femmes, isn't going to be recognized any time soon, the fight against HB 1441 is just one in a long line of fights against abortion restrictions to come.