Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Court Tosses Oklahoma Abortion Restrictions

Today, a state district court judge in Oklahoma blocked enforcement of a state law that would have imposed numerous restrictions related to abortion. The court ruled that the bill passed by the legislature addressed too many disparate topics and therefore violated the Oklahoma constitution’s “single-subject” requirement. One of the restrictions, an ultrasound provision, would have prohibited a woman from getting an abortion unless she first had an ultrasound and listened to her doctor describe the image in detail even if she objected. In addition, the law would have restricted the availability of abortions performed with the medical abortion pill leaving some women with surgery as their only option.

“We are extremely pleased with today’s decision striking down a multitude of abortion restrictions, including the most extreme ultrasound requirement in the country for women seeking abortions,” said Stephanie Toti, staff attorney in the U.S. Legal Program of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“Not only was this law an absolute affront to a woman’s decision-making power, it threatened to shut down a facility that serves the health needs of thousands of women throughout Oklahoma and surrounding states.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the legal action on behalf of Reproductive Services, a nonprofit medical clinic in Tulsa. Enforcement of the Oklahoma was temporarily blocked last October and then, in March, extended until the conclusion of the case.

The Center argued that the law violated the Oklahoma constitution and that vague ultrasound and medical abortion requirements within the law would drastically limit Reproductive Services’ ability to meet the demand for abortions from its patients, threatening its ability to stay in business. The clinic provides abortion services to more than 200 women each month.

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