With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many states have enacted laws that not only restrict a person’s access to abortion services, but also criminalizes helping a person seek an abortion. Now library workers in states with these types of restrictive abortion laws are wondering if providing information about abortion is also restricted under these laws. In July 2022, staff at the Metropolitan Library System (MLS) in Oklahoma were told not to help patrons access information about abortion, the message to staff going so far as the warn them to not even use the word abortion when speaking to patrons. In states with restrictive abortion laws, librarians may have to decided what statues are more important for them to adhere to, state law or the First Amendment.
Many of the bills use very similar language, referencing “unfair trade practices” and “censorship.” Several bills would require social media platforms to warn users of their specific electronic speech transgressions and give violators a grace period to clean up whatever part of their act that would see them banned. Some bills empower the banned to file consumer complaints with state attorneys general or, like Texas’ SB 2373, to file suit.
This current battle, in 2017 for the integrity of the classroom isn’t new for Oklahoma or the nation, but this particular bill feels like a retread. The author of Senate Bill 393 is State Senator Josh Brecheen. Brecheen has authored similar bills (six in fact) since 2011. This is his seventh attempt.