Oklahoma Republicans voted to force all public schools, health-care centers, and restaurants to display pro-life signs inside their bathrooms. All facilities regulated by the State Department of Health are required to post the signs by January 2018.
Conservative lawmakers passed the regulation as a part of a new law that requires the state to distribute informational material “for the purpose of achieving an abortion-free society.” The state legislature neglected to budget any money for the program, an estimated $2.3 million in costs that schools and business will pay out of pocket.
Under the law, the proposed signs would state: “There are many public and private agencies willing and able to help you carry your child to term and assist you and your child after your child is born, whether you choose to keep your child or to place him or her for adoption. The State of Oklahoma strongly urges you to contact them if you are pregnant.” Signs would also include a link to the Health Department’s website.
The State Board of Health will consider regulations for the signs on Tuesday.
The law, backed by an anti-abortion group Oklahomans for Life, is facing significant backlash from women’s health groups and business owners. In written comments provided to the Health Department, the Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy called the proposed regulations “completely unnecessary and unwanted” and said they would provide a significant financial burden on already stressed state agencies, including the departments of Health and Education.
Jim Hooper, President of the Oklahoma Restaurant worries that the costs of the mandate could hurt small businesses, “It’s just another mandate on small businesses. It’s not just restaurants. It includes hospitals, nursing homes. It just doesn’t make sense.”
The Oklahoma Hospital Association projected that it would costs at least $225,000 to produce and maintain the signage in the states 140 licensed hospitals.