STILLWELL, Okla. — The chief of the largest Native American tribe in the U.S. responded to claims made by Oklahoma’s governor that tribal health centers in the state were planning to offer abortions as a way to get around state law of the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) overturns Roe v. Wade.
Cherokee Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the claims by Gov. Kevin Stitt on FOX News that his and other tribes were planning to offer abortion services were “grossly false.” He also stated the Cherokee Nation currently doesn’t even offer reproductive health services. He also said he had heard of no other tribe in the state making plans to do so.
“This isn’t the first time Governor Stitt hasn’t had the foggiest idea of what he’s talking about when it comes to the Cherokee Nation,” Chief Hoskin said. “It’s really breathtaking, the lack of knowledge he has about Indian healthcare. I mean, my goodness. He’s a Cherokee citizen.”
Chief Hoskin said the Cherokee Nation is restricted from offering abortion services by federal law, but the tribe does go above what national Indian Health Services offers to tribes on behalf of the federal government. Those additional services include things like eyeglasses, dentures and other care outside basic needs when someone gets sick.
“Federal law doesn’t allow that,” he said. “What we do provide is help for people with diabetes and high blood pressure. We provide care from the most serious type of cardiac issues to every day issues.”
In an interview with FOX News Sunday in May, Gov. Stitt said he had heard of plans being made by Oklahoma’s tribes to open up abortion clinics inside tribal health care facilities as a way to get around abortion restrictions implemented by the state.
If SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade this summer, abortion will be totally illegal in Oklahoma. Gov. Stitt said because of SCOTUS’ historic McGirt decision, the tribal lands in Oklahoma are federal property and untouchable by state law.
“The tribes in Oklahoma are super liberal,” Gov. Stitt said on FOX News Sunday. “They go to Washington D.C. They talk to President Biden at the White House. They kind of adopt those strategies. We think there is the possibility that some tribes could try to set up abortion services on demand. They think you can be one one thousandth tribal member and not have to follow state law.”
But Chief Hoskin said it was clear the governor was still upset about the McGirt decision, and he was trying to use scare-tactics as a way to turn Oklahomans against the tribes, which he said would not change the SCOTUS ruling that the Indian reservations within the state were never dis-established.
“Frankly, I’m glad the governor is paying some attention to Cherokee health because that means he is looking at the leader of health care in this state which is the Cherokee Nation,” he said. “I wish he would follow our lead and provide this kind of health care across the state. In the meantime, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Hoskin said he and the leaders of other tribes are ready to sit down and hash out an agreement on how the state and the tribes work together to carry out criminal justice matters for the betterment of everyone, but first, he said the false comments about tribes need to stop before anyone comes to the table with the governor.
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