Okla. Gov. Fallin Signs Bill Allowing Lawsuits Against Abortion Providers

May 10, 2012 — Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) on Tuesday signed into law a bill (HB 2561) permitting lawsuits against abortion providers -- including any doctor who prescribes medication abortion drugs -- who do not follow the state's voluntary and informed consent laws, The Oklahoman reports. The law takes effect Sept. 1 (McNutt, The Oklahoman, 5/9).

The governor's action comes after the House last week unanimously approved the bill.

Under the legislation, lawsuits will be permitted if providers do not abide by a state law that requires women to undergo an ultrasound and fetal heartbeat monitoring prior to abortion care. The bill also would apply if a provider violates a state law that requires notification of a minor's parents 48 hours before abortion care. Suits also could be filed because of complications related to an abortion (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/4).

Physicians who refer a woman who has a problem pregnancy to an abortion provider would not be subject to lawsuits (The Oklahoman, 5/9).

The women, or the parents or guardians of a minor, have two years from the time of the abortion procedure to file a suit. The suits could seek actual and punitive damages equal to those for the wrongful death of a child, including damages for mental anguish and emotional distress (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/4).