NEW YORK, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Strict anti-abortion laws that took effect in U.S. state of Oklahoma this year led to the quick shuttering of every abortion facility in the state, but left questions for those who work directly with women who may seek their advice or help getting an abortion out of state, reported The Associated Press (AP) on Monday.
"Beyond the profound repercussions the abortion laws are having on medical care, especially reproductive medicine, clergy members, social workers and even librarians have raised concerns about being exposed to criminal or civil liability for just discussing the topic," said the report.
Those fears are well-founded, said Joseph Thai, a professor at the University of Oklahoma who teaches about constitutional law and the Supreme Court. He described Oklahoma's new anti-abortion laws, which include both criminal and civil penalties, as the strictest in the nation so far and sweeping in both substance and scope.
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade and remove women's constitutional right to abortion immediately triggered a 1910 Oklahoma law that makes it a felony, punishable by two to five years in prison, for every person who "advises" or provides any other means for a woman to procure an abortion. That law allows abortion only to save the mother's life, according to the report.
"That all-encompassing language can make anyone and everyone who helps a woman get an abortion or provides information about access to abortion - including a spouse, another family member, a friend, a classmate or co-worker, a librarian, or even an Uber driver - a felon," Thai said. "Likewise, employers who have pledged to pay for their employees' abortions as part of their reproductive health coverage and their insurance companies face criminal liability."