Oklahoma to Require Anti-Abortion Signage in Certain Restrooms23-Dec-2016
In case you missed it, Oklahoma is in a budget crisis. Funding is being cut to multiple necessary agencies. Meanwhile the state legislature passed an unfunded mandate that will pass the brunt of the cost on to hospitals and businesses in Oklahoma. And the law is one that many people find not only unnecessary, but also inappropriate.
House Bill 2797, which was signed into law during this year's legislative session, will ask all facilities and businesses licensed by the Oklahoma Department of Health to place anti-abortion signs in restrooms. These facilities will include hospitals, nursing homes, and restaurants. The law nearly sneaked by unnoticed until last week, when the state Board of Health developed its rules to implement HB 2797.
According to the rules, which the Board of Health approved in a vote of 8-1, the signs must read as follows:
"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."
Additionally, the signs must be constructed in such a way that they are able to be disinfected regularly--after all, they will be placed in restrooms.
Some critics of the bill cite the cost of implementing the program. The Oklahoma Hospital Association estimates that each sign will cost $80, costing a large hospital like Integris Health more than $60,000 to implement.
Other critics say that the signs are unnecessary--especially at nursing homes, where residents are well past childbearing age and do not really need to know their options for continuing or terminating a pregnancy.
Fortunately, there is no penalty for businesses that choose not to comply with the signage, and no facility will lose its license for refusing to put up anti-abortion signage. Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, one of the authors of the bill, said that the law was intended to be voluntary, and that its intent is to "raise awareness" about the availability of prenatal care and services for pregnant women.
To sum up, in a session where legislators should have spent their time trying to balance a budget and deal with serious issues like prison overcrowding, education, and mental health services, they instead passed a voluntary, unfunded law to place anti-abortion signs in nursing home restrooms. Well done, Oklahoma.
Edit: It appears that Sen. Griffin is now backing off the measure, saying that the state will utilize a social media campaign instead. Read more.
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