This message is intended to clarify the Metropolitan Library System’s (MLS) approach to how we assist guests seeking information about abortion and abortion services.
Recently, questions were raised concerning the civil liability that we may encounter while providing information on abortion to our library guests. We consulted an attorney for a legal opinion on the best way to provide information services on this topic while minimizing civil liabilities for MLS and ensuring that we are complying with the law and our professional responsibilities.
Our legal counsel shared legal clarification to our role in providing information services related to the topic of abortion and this guidance is being provided to staff to protect both the MLS and our employees from the risk of civil liability, which we do for all legal matters. This guidance is balanced by our responsibility to provide information services to our community and to comply with existing Oklahoma laws, while continuing to support the First Amendment, our Freedom to Read statements, and our professional ethics in the process. The following information represents the latest legal guidance on this topic.
While at work, staff can provide information about:
- What abortion is (a literal definition of the word, and/or a factual description of the procedure), and scientific research on this subject.
- The Oklahoma statutes on this topic – either pointing guests to the laws to read for themselves or sharing the laws with guests with no conveyance of legal or medical advice or interpretation of the language in the law.
- Information about national and state laws, court cases, and Supreme Court decisions such as “what was Roe vs. Wade?”
Staff may not provide the following information while at work:
- Opinions surrounding the law or any medical or legal advice (which is how we share information about all other legal and medical topics).
- Actively assisting anyone in breaking the laws of Oklahoma, which could include both civil and criminal liabilities.
Due to the recent changes in Oklahoma laws and to better protect the privacy of library guests, we are tightening our existing technology security and record-keeping, to preserve the anonymity of guests when using our public computers or Wi-Fi.
This information is being shared to ensure that the library system and staff are protected while addressing our professional responsibilities to provide the highest quality of service to our guests while complying with the law.
Metropolitan Library System