Lawmakers in Oklahoma want restaurants to post signs in their bathrooms telling pregnant women where to get services, in order to reduce the number of abortions in the state. But, the state isn’t offering any funding for this campaign. Instead, it wants the restaurants to spend their own money on the signs.
According to Associated Press reporter Sean Murphy, the posted notices 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.”
Restaurants will have to put the signs up by January 2018. The requirement for these signs was included in a law that the Oklahoma legislature passed earlier in the year. It was requested by an anti-abortion group, Oklahomans for Life.
Although the law requiring the signs was passed, there has been no funding approved to pay for them, which is why restaurants (and other public places where they will be required, including hospitals and schools) will have to pay for the signage out of pocket. The signs are a softer attempt by the state to lower its abortion rate (in contrast to a previous bill that attempted to designate abortion as a felony).
The Oklahoma Restaurant Association has not responded to an Eater request for comment. However, its president Jim Hopper told the AP he isn’t pleased with the law, calling it “just another mandate on small business.” After all, it is akin to someone with a pile of money sauntering into a restaurant, asking if they can put up their advertisements, and then asking restaurateurs if they can pretty please cover the bill.
Restaurant bathrooms have emerged as a battleground for social politics. Earlier this year, North Carolina passed into law its so-called “bathroom bill,” which required individuals to use public restrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate, as opposed to their gender identity. Some progressive-minded restaurateurs in the state, including chef Ashley Christensen, fought back by designating their facilities as uni-sex.
• Oklahoma plans to enforce restroom signs in effort to reduce abortions [AP]
• Oklahoma's governor just vetoed the bill that would have made abortion a felony [Vox]
• I Used to Keep Politics Out of My Restaurants. HB2 Changed That. [E]