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Okla. Supreme Court Issues 30-Day Injunction Against Antiabortion-Rights Law

Okla. Supreme Court Issues 30-Day Injunction Against Antiabortion-Rights Law

October 27, 2015 — The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday put a 30-day hold on a state law (SB 642) that imposes multiple restrictions on abortion providers and patients, AP/KTUL ABC 8 reports (AP/KTUL ABC 8, 10/26).

Background

The law, which was scheduled to take effect Nov. 1, 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.

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 state Supreme Court earlier this month heard oral arguments in the lawsuit (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/14).

Latest Developments

The Oklahoma high court did not offer an opinion on the constitutionality of the measure. The lawsuit now returns to district court for further litigation (Hoberock, World Capitol Bureau/Tulsa World, 10/27).

The high court said the injunction could be extended past 30 days.

CRR CEO Nancy Northup praised the decision (AP/KTUL ABC 8). "Oklahoma women already face significant obstacles when seeking safe, legal abortion," she said, adding, "The last thing they need is another measure criminalizing their doctors and pushing essential health care further out of reach" (World Capitol Bureau/Tulsa World, 10/27).