Tulsa, OK asked in Civil Rights, Constitutional Law and Gov & Administrative Law for Oklahoma

Q: Does Oklahoma's Constitution ban Gender Specific laws, and if so, does this affect Abortion Bans in Oklahoma?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: Yes, the Oklahoma Constitution does contain a provision that bans gender-specific laws. Specifically, Article 2, Section 32 of the Oklahoma Constitution states:

"No special privileges or immunities shall ever be granted which may not be altered, revoked, or repealed by the Legislature; nor shall any citizen, or class of citizens, be granted privileges or immunities which, upon the same terms, shall not be granted equally to all citizens."

This provision has been interpreted by some legal experts to potentially affect the legality of abortion bans in Oklahoma. In 2022, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision, Oklahoma enacted a near-total ban on abortion.

Some legal scholars have argued that because abortion bans primarily affect women, they could be considered a violation of the Oklahoma Constitution's ban on gender-specific laws. However, this argument has not yet been tested in court.

It's worth noting that the application of this constitutional provision to abortion laws is still a matter of legal debate and interpretation. As of my knowledge cutoff in August 2023, there had not been a definitive ruling by Oklahoma courts on whether the state's abortion ban violates the state constitution's prohibition on gender-specific laws. The legal landscape surrounding abortion access remains complex and continues to evolve.

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