It’s been nearly 50 years since abortion was banned in Oklahoma. Now, Governor Kevin Stitt is calling on leaders to re-examine how the state can best serve pregnant women and adoption agencies.
According to the Oklahoma State Health Department, the state averaged around 5,200 abortions per year, dating back to 2002. Following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, the state expects more of those children to be born and some placed up for adoption.
In the executive order filed Monday, Stitt wrote, “Our work is not yet done. Being pro-life entails more than being “pro-birth”; it also entails renewing our efforts to support mothers throughout pregnancies, especially crisis pregnancies.”
There is work to be done in Oklahoma, according to the early childhood advocacy group Zero to Three. They found, in 2021, that nearly half of Oklahoma children are born into families beneath the poverty line and that the state falls behind national averages on infant mortality and mental health of mothers.
The task force will be made up of leaders of the House and Senate, the Attorney General and the Governor’s office.
They’ll look at supporting crisis pregnancy centers, eliminating unnecessary barriers to adoption and empowering nonprofits and faith communities to support families and mothers before, during and after childbirth.
“This is the new frontier,” Caitlin Connors with the Susan B. Anthony list said. “This is what many in the pro-life movement have been working on for 50 years is to really be on the frontlines working and walking hand-in-hand with women in their time of need, but now I think you’ll see more policy in that time on need, and not only being supporting women of choosing life but also supporting that child after birth.”
Planned Parenthood criticized the executive order in a statement to News 9.
"Governor Stitt seems very comfortable telling women what they want and need. We think it would be a nice change of pace if he actually listened to women and recognized their ability to make their own medical decisions,” Anamarie Rebori Simmons with Planned Parenthood Great Plains said in a statement.
According to Oklahoma DHS officials, there are typically around 500 children in the state's foster care system at any given time. However, they said the foster care system is set up for children who are unsafe, abused or neglected and children given up for adoption don't fall into that category.
They said it will likely be private adoption services that see an influx of need following the reversal of Roe v. Wade.