Dechert Lead Counsel on Lawsuit Filed to Block Oklahoma’s Total Abortion Bans

July 01, 2022

On July 1, 2022, Dechert litigation partner Linda Goldstein as lead counsel along with the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Blake Patton, on behalf of the Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice, Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic, Dr. Alan Braid, Planned Parenthood Great Plains, and Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma Supreme Court challenging two total abortion bans with criminal penalties for providers, one of which has been on the books since 1910.

The 1910 “pre-Roe” ban prohibits abortion entirely and was revived by the Oklahoma Attorney General on June 24, 2022, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The other ban (S.B. 612, enacted in 2022) would make performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a US$100,000 fine. It is scheduled to take effect in August. Abortion has been completely unavailable in Oklahoma since May 25, 2022, when Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law two citizen-enforced bans on abortion that took effect immediately upon signature.

The lawsuit is based on the strong protection for individual rights guaranteed by the Oklahoma Constitution. In addition to asking the court to strike down the 1910 and 2022 criminal abortion bans, petitioners requested an emergency order to block the bans while litigation on the merits proceeds.

“Oklahoma’s constitution is a unique document that provides stronger guarantees of personal liberty than the U.S. Constitution,” said Linda Goldstein. “Laws that deprive people of the ability to control their own bodies once they become pregnant cannot be squared with a constitution that was meant to provide Oklahomans with the greatest possible personal freedom.”

The Dechert team also includes partner Jonathan Tam and associates Jenna Newmark, Meghan Agostinelli, Samantha DeRuvo and Rachel Rosenberg, as well as retired partner Jerome Hoffman.

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