Oklahoma Prosecutors Decline to Charge Teen Who Allegedly Self-Induced Abortion

The district attorney’s office in Cleveland County, Oklahoma, announced Thursday that prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against a teenage girl who allegedly self-induced an abortion.

According to The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City law enforcement said that in 2012, a 16-year-old girl, whose name was not released because she was a minor at the time, intentionally took medication in order to terminate a pregnancy. A spokesperson from the district attorney’s office said that there was not enough evidence to file charges against the girl.

Responding to the news, reproductive rights advocates said that they fear the laws being implemented in the state that restrict access to abortion services will cause cases of self-induced abortion to become much more prevalent.

Jill June, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, told RH Reality Check that the dilemma women in Oklahoma face is completely “asinine.” June said that while it is illegal to terminate a pregnancy without the supervision of a licensed physician, lawmakers continue to pass legislation that cuts off a woman’s access to such physicians.

Gov. Mary Fallin recently signed into law SB 1848, which among other things requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The new law is expected to close two of the state’s three abortion providers, leaving only Reproductive Services in Tulsa as the lone abortion provider.

SB 1848 was modeled after a Texas law, which has severely restricted access to reproductive health care in that state, most notably in the Rio Grande Valley. The law also has been duplicated in other states, including Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Alabama.

“The recent passage of this dangerous legislation in several states, including in Oklahoma, only reduces a woman’s access to safe, legal abortion,” said June. “Women will not stop needing abortion care. Fortunately, the young woman in this instance will not face criminal charges, but many other women will risk prosecution and compromise their own health and safety in order to end a pregnancy.”

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  • TheBrett

    This is only going to become more common, especially since you can get the drugs necessary to do a self-abortion either from a legitimate pharmacy (as long as you can get the prescription for it), or off the internet as long as you find a reliable source.

  • purrtriarchy

    So a question for the pro lifers who say that abortion is murder. If abortion was illegal, should this girl have been sentenced to life in prison for her crime?

    • TheBrett

      Some of the super-extreme ones would want to have her charged for murder, but by and large my impression is that it’s a subject they don’t want to tread on for fear of backlash (and possibly because even many anti-choicers don’t like the idea that they’re “punishing” the women getting abortions).

      It should be a rather unpleasantly interesting subject for future litigation if any of the states in the South manage to effectively ban abortion by TRAP laws. What will they do when women and girls show up bleeding at hospitals from the small percentage of self-induced medication abortions that go wrong?

      • Pinkladyapple

        Im assuming there’s nothing they can do. It would be treated as a miscarriage and no way to prove otherwise, unless she admitted to taking the pills.

        • TheBrett

          I think it’s possible to detect traces of Misoprostol taken vaginally if they do it that way, although there’s no way for them to prove that a woman took it orally unless she confesses.

          • lady_black

            Misoprostal is undetectable after 12 hours, and though it is sometimes used vaginally, it works by absorption into the bloodstream, not locally. It is also not taken “orally” so much as sublingually. In the same way, the drug is absorbed into the blood stream via the mucous membranes. Unless someone was stupid enough to give them a confession, they have to treat it as a natural miscarriage.