An extremist anti-abortion measure that could cost Oklahoma businesses $2.3 million is currently being considered by the Oklahoma State Board of Health. The law would require businesses to put up signs in bathrooms that discourage abortion.
The News And Observer reports that the bill was proposed and promoted by anti-choice organization Oklahomans For Life with the intention of achieving an "abortion-free society." The bill made no plan for paying for the signs, leaving businesses to carry the significant financial burden. Besides the unfair monetary consequences for businesses, the bill would have serious repercussions for the physical and emotional wellbeing of Oklahoma's citizens.
The plan was hidden in a law that was passed earlier this year and demands that hospitals, nursing homes, public schools, and restaurants post signage stating the following message.
"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."
This kind of government oversight over women's bodies not only attempts to force women to have children when they can't afford to or do not want to, but it also does nothing to address the fact that abortion is often a consequence of inadequate education and access to sexual health resources.
In Oklahoma, sex education is not required by the state, leaving schools to decide how and what to teach teens. According to an Oklahoma Watch report from 2014, schools have been phasing out sex education over the past 20 years.
There is plenty of evidence that shaming and punishing language (and legislature) around abortion access can cause significant harm, with women getting less safe abortions, experiencing extreme depression, having difficulty bonding with an unwanted child, and living with financial strain.
It is disheartening to see that many business owners' complaints reported by News And Observer are purely financial when so many lives could be negatively impacted by these signs. Perhaps, however, their monetary concerns will put an end to this gross overstep in trying to oppress women's right to choose.
Banner image credit: Reuters, Jonathan Ernst