Oklahoma’s quest to become a real-life Gilead is coming along nicely.
Earlier this week, a Metro Library System employee shared a now-deleted screenshot to Reddit of an email that was sent to staff concerning “abortion inquiries.”
According to the library’s legal department, librarians should avoid using the word “abortion” and no longer aid people in looking for information on the topic, otherwise, they may lose their job, face a $10,000 fine and even go to jail!
Check out this insanity:
I’m not a 1st Amendment Auditor or anything like that, but doesn’t this violate the First Amendment? For example, say some religious zealot comes in trying to bait a librarian into saying the A-word, shouldn’t a librarian have the freedom to say something like “I really wish your mom would have got an abortion?”
Also, it’s been a minute since I’ve been to a library, but I’m pretty sure they have a wide variety of novels, books, and anthologies on hand that cover illegal activities like theft, murder and drug use. Why does abortion get it’s own special “Don’t say that word” category? Is there some stupid law we don’t know about?
Oklahoma is like Texas and has that stupid law on the books that lets individuals sue those they believe may have obtained an abortion, or assisted someone in obtaining the procedure. According to that logic, I guess you can sue a librarian who assists a woman in looking up “abortion” via the Dewey Decimal System, or simply helps them find Hemmingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants.”
As a result, I’d advise all MLS employees to use their own slang terms when referencing abortion, just to be safe.
“Yes, I need help finding a book about abortion?”
“Oh, you mean a “Fetus Deletus?” Right this way…”
After the email made the rounds on Reddit, Vice jumped on the story. According to them, the Metro Library System issued updated guidance on the topic yesterday:
In a memo emailed to library staff Thursday morning, MLS executive director Larry White wrote that the guidance on abortion was sent in response to an initial review by the library system’s legal team.
The updated guidance states that library workers should “provide factual information” about what abortion is and the state and federal laws surrounding it, but “should not offer opinions surrounding the law” or “actively assist anyone in breaking the laws of Oklahoma.” The memo further states that MLS is “tightening our existing technology security and record keeping” to provide better anonymity for those seeking abortion information.
“This guidance is being provided because of our responsibility to protect MLS from the risk of civil liability, which we do for all legal matters,” White wrote in the letter, which was obtained by Motherboard. “This guidance is being balanced by our responsibilities to provide information services to our community, to comply with the existing laws of this state, support of the 1st Amendment, our Freedom to Read statements, and our professional ethics in this process.”
Yep, only provide “factual” information about abortion, librarians. You know, like that it should be a safe and legal medical procedure, and that whether or not to get one is a private medical decision that should be made by a woman.
Although it may get you sued or sent to jail, that is a fact.
Stay with The Lost Ogle. We’ll keep you advised.