The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Oklahoma is extending its abortion waiting period; more states could follow

(Niraj Chokshi)

Oklahoma this fall will triple the length of its abortion waiting period, the latest in a flurry of state activity on such policies.

Under the Oklahoma law, signed by Gov. Mary Fallin (R) on Wednesday, women seeking an abortion in the state must wait 72 hours before receiving the procedure. Providers must also notify women of the probable gestational age of the unborn child, the risks associated with the abortion and with carrying the child to term and that ultrasound imaging is available. Providers with a Web site must also link to the state’s “A Woman’s Right to Know” site.

[Where reproductive rights stand in the states, in 6 maps]

“This legislation will help women get the information they need before making a decision they can’t take back,” Fallin said in a statement.

The new law, which goes into effect on Nov. 1, places Oklahoma in a small group of states with a three-day limit. South Dakota passed a 72-hour waiting period in 2011. Utah joined it in 2012 and Missouri passed its own last fall. In South Dakota, the wait excludes weekends and holidays. In Missouri, the law contains no exception for rape or incest.

All told, 26 states imposed waiting periods as of May 1, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Oklahoma becomes the 27th.

But several more may soon increase or add new waiting periods. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) is expected to sign a bill introducing a 48-hour waiting period in his state; the North Carolina House passed a bill that would triple its waiting period to 72 hours; and a Florida bill introducing a 24-hour waiting period would become law if Gov. Rick Scott (R) signs it.