Oklahoma passed a law earlier this year that will require restaurants, hospitals, and other businesses with public bathrooms to spend an estimated $2.3 million on signs intended to reduce abortions.
On Tuesday, the State Department of Health began considering the regulations for signs, which will be required to be posted in hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants, and public schools, “for the purpose of achieving an abortion-free society,” the Associated Press reported.
Hospitals and restaurant groups in the state are opposing the new regulation, saying that it serve as an unnecessary tax on small businesses.
“We don’t have any concern about the information they’re trying to get out to women about their babies and their pregnancy. This is just the wrong way to do it,” said Jim Hooper, president of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association, told the Associated Press. “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 estimated making the signs would cost from $45 to $150 per sign, which could add up to roughly $750 in costs for a small rural hospital and $60,000 for Integris Health, Oklahoma’s largest network of health care systems, reported NewsOK.
Many took to social media to complain about the new signage requirement.
“I’m for small government! I’m for fiscal responsibility” *spends 2.3 million on posters that facilities are forced to put up* #oklahoma
— LvilleClinicEscorts (@LouClinicEscort) December 13, 2016
Oklahoma: our education is severely underfunded but thank god we magically have $2 million for bathroom signs to “prevent abortions”
— Peyton Benge (@PeytonBenge) December 13, 2016
#republicans “we need to end gvt overreach and wasteful spending” also “BUSINESSES are forced to put up this sign that will cost millions” 3
— my name is (@markeux) December 13, 2016
Oklahoma: doesn’t have enough money to properly fund education & infrastructure
Also Oklahoma: Spends 2.3 million on anti abortion signs. https://t.co/BpEZxsxHes
— lauren???????? (@laurenbrownjpg) December 13, 2016
Leaders of the Oklahoma Assisted Living Association also opposed the required signage, though for different reasons.
“This rule could have a negative emotional impact on our residents,” a comment from the association reprinted in NewsOK. “I understand the purpose of House Bill 2797 is to educate those of childbearing age of option to terminating a pregnancy. However, our residents are obviously older and not of childbearing age. Is it necessary to inform them of options which are not applicable?”
Public bathrooms have become a major target for city and state regulation – at times to the detriment of local businesses.
North Carolina’s “bathroom law” – which mandates that transgender people must use the bathroom that corresponds with their biological sex – has reportedly cost the state nearly $400 million due to lost business.
Meanwhile, cities including Philadelphia and Seattle have passed legislation in recent years to require all businesses with public bathrooms to designate all single-stall restrooms as open to all genders, something cities said was a relatively low-cost proposition.