National Partnership for Women & Families

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Okla. sen. proposes revisions to antiabortion-rights signage regulations

An Oklahoma senator has proposed legislation (SB 30) to amend regulations that in their current form will require most public bathrooms to have signs aimed at dissuading women from seeking abortion care, the Oklahoman reports (Oklahoman, 12/17).

Existing requirement

The Oklahoma Board of Health approved the signage regulations last Tuesday. The regulations are part of a larger law (HB 2797) that requires the state to develop and disseminate antiabortion-rights materials. Donald Maisch, an attorney with the state Board of Health, said the signage rules have to be ratified by the state Legislature and the governor before they take effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

Under the regulations, affected businesses and organizations will have to post a sign that reads, "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 must also include a link to the website for the state Health Department.

In its current form, the signage provision will apply to any organization regulated by the state Department of Health, which includes hospitals, hotels, motels, nursing homes, residential care facilities and the majority of public schools.

Implementing the regulations in their current form is projected to cost affected organizations $2.1 million. Lawmakers did not allocate state funding for implementing the regulations (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/14).

Lawmaker proposes changes

In response to concerns about the regulations' cost to businesses, state Sen. A.J. Griffin (R), who sponsored the law, on Friday proposed legislation to revise the signage regulations.

Under Griffin's new proposal, the physical signage requirement would apply only to abortion providers (AP/Sacramento Bee, 12/16). In lieu of having facilities other than clinics post the signs, the updated proposal calls for the Department of Health to disseminate antiabortion-rights material on its website and via social media (Oklahoman, 12/17).

According to Griffin, the department is being asked to halt implementation efforts while lawmakers consider the new proposal. The state Legislature convenes Feb. 6 (AP/Sacramento Bee, 12/16).