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Lankford leads GOP senators' call for SCOTUS to overturn Roe as advocates ready for 'an immediate impact' in Oklahoma

 The Center for Reproductive Rights hosted a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday as justices heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health.
The Center for Reproductive Rights hosted a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday as justices heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health.

Oklahoma is among the states with laws on the books to completely ban abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade in the wake of Wednesday arguments about a Mississippi abortion law.

In a Tuesday news conference held by Republican U.S. senators, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford was optimistic that will be the eventual outcome.

"I believe this court will take up the legal argument, will take up the scientific examination, and will relook at Roe v. Wade in a whole new way and will return this country to what it was pre-1973, where each state made their own decisions to be able to protect the lives of every single child," Lankford said.

More than two dozen leading U.S. medical groups filed an amicus brief opposing the Mississippi law.

Lankford was joined at the news conference by Sens. Steve Daines of Montana, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, John Thune of South Dakota, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Todd Young of Indiana, Bill Cassidy, of Louisiana, and Mike Lee of Utah.

The court's six conservative justices seem inclined to uphold the Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks. It’s not clear whether they’ll do that by overturning Roe v. Wade as they've been asked to do.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains Interim CEO Emily Wales said if she could have spoken to the justices Wednesday, she would have reminded them every abortion involves a person deserving compassion and dignity making a medical decision with their doctor.

"If Roe is overturned, there will be an immediate impact here at home. Patients will undoubtedly lose access, and those who can afford to travel will be forced to do so. But for some patients, it will mean carrying pregnancies to term against their will," Wales said.

Wales said Oklahoma has already seen an influx of patients from Texas after the Supreme Court let their law letting private citizens file whistleblower lawsuits against abortion providers take effect. She anticipates letting states ban abortions will make for longer waits where the procedure remains legal.

Lankford also on Tuesday compared the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe to its infamous 1896 decision that racial segregation laws — "separate but equal" — were constitutional.

"Plessy v. Ferguson is still recognized today as one of the worst court decisions ever done, 52 years after it was first decided. Roe v. Wade is 48 years old," Lankford said.

Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice Co-Chair Tamya Cox-Touré responded to that comparison from the steps of the Supreme Court Wednesday morning.

"The racism in the anti-abortion world has been there a long time. We completely disagree. Plessy v. Ferguson was about oppression and systemic issues, and Roe v. Wade is simply giving individuals the right to make health care decisions for themselves," Cox-Touré said.

Cox-Touré said her organization will continue work to help people access abortion regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling, which is expected next year. That may, however, involve helping people find providers out of state rather than helping them navigate Oklahoma's complex abortion restrictions.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.