No matter what the Oklahoma legislature does, a Kansas organization says they will be opening an abortion clinic in Oklahoma City.
At a capitol press conference, a handful of lawmakers said they believe the group decided to open the clinic after the Governor's veto. But the woman who is opening the clinic said that's not true, they were moving forward either way.
That clinic is set to open early summer. Julie Burkhart, the woman behind the venture says it will be the first abortion clinic to open in Oklahoma City in 40 years.
“We felt like there was an opportunity for us to really fill a need in this part of the state,” said Burkhart. “When you look at laws on the books they are incredibly hostile. But when we’ve talked to people in the community, people are supportive of our work and have welcomed us.”
When Outpatient Services for Women closed in 2014, Burkhart says Oklahoma City became the largest metropolitan area in the United States without an abortion provider. Lawmakers who passed Senate Bill 1552, which would have made performing an abortion a felony, were hoping to keep it that way.
“With 1552 it looks like we could have saved more lives and limited abortion in this state and now it looks like, with that veto, that will expand abortions here in Oklahoma,” said Sen. Nathan Dahm, (R - Broken Arrow).
But Burkhart says what is happening at the capitol has not changed their course of action. However, she says the bill is unconstitutional and they would seriously consider litigation if it were to become law.
In the meantime, she says she has licensed physicians ready to work at the clinic when it opens in a month.
“They have not indicated to me they are willing to back down,” said Burkhart. “They feel that providing women’s health care to people in Oklahoma City is the best course of action.”
There are two other abortion clinics in the state; one in Tulsa and one in Norman.