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Okla. Supreme Court Petitioned To Block Antiabortion-Rights Law

Okla. Supreme Court Petitioned To Block Antiabortion-Rights Law

September 28, 2015 — The Center for Reproductive Rights on Friday petitioned the Oklahoma Supreme Court to invalidate and block the implementation of a law (SB 642) that imposes multiple restrictions on abortion providers and patients, Reuters reports.

The law is scheduled to go into effect Nov. 1 (Brandes, Reuters, 9/25).

Background

The law encompasses four abortion-related measures, including required parental consent for minors receiving abortions, preservation of fetal tissue, investigations into abortion clinics and enforcement of penalties for abortion providers.

The law expands on an existing prohibition on minors' access to abortion. It also mandates that abortion providers preserve fetal tissue from abortions obtained by minors under age 14 and give the tissue samples to the State Bureau of Investigation. In addition, the law requires the Oklahoma Department of Health to implement policies that grant broad authority to enter and examine abortion facilities for inspections related to clinic licensure. The law creates civil and criminal penalties, in addition to civil liability, for violating antiabortion-rights requirements.

Lawsuit Details

CRR filed a lawsuit on behalf of Larry Burns, an abortion provider in Norman, Okla.

According to the lawsuit, the law violates the state constitution, which mandates that legislation cover only one subject. The complaint quotes language from the state's constitution to contend that the antiabortion-rights law "contains multiple subjects that are not 'germane, relative and cognate to a readily apparent common theme and purpose,'" meaning that lawmakers who support only part of the legislation would have to make an "all-or-nothing choice" when voting.

The complaint also notes that the legislation includes recommendations from the antiabortion-rights group Americans United for Life (AP/KOCO, 9/25).

The lawsuit reads, "This case affects the people of Oklahoma and the community at large because whether the act is enforced will impact the ability of physicians and clinics to provide, and women to receive, safe and legal abortion care in the state of Oklahoma" (Reuters, 9/25).

Additional Lawsuits

According to AP/KOCO, this is the second lawsuit CRR has filed on behalf of Burns and the seventh it has filed against antiabortion-rights legislation in Oklahoma over the last five years. An Oklahoma County judge has arranged for a February hearing in Burn's other lawsuit, which challenges the constitutionality of a state law (SB 1848) requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals (AP/KOCO, 9/25).

Meanwhile, an Oklahoma judge in August overturned a law (HB 2684) that restricted the use of medication abortion in the state (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/11).