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Abortion Restrictions Move Forward in Okla. House, Senate

Abortion Restrictions Move Forward in Okla. House, Senate

March 3, 2014 — The Oklahoma House on Thursday passed a bill that would place new restrictions on abortion clinics and medication abortions, Reuters reports. A state Senate committee on Wednesday advanced an identical bill.

The legislation would require physicians who offer abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, require strict guidelines for administering medication abortions and change building standards for abortion clinics.

Debate

State Rep. Mike Ritze (R), author of the House bill, said its intent is to ensure women's safety if they experience complications from an abortion (Brandes, Reuters, 2/27).

Less than 1% of abortions result in complications needing hospitalization, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Critics of admitting privileges requirements have argued that hospitals are unlikely to grant the privileges to abortion providers because they rarely admit patients.

Opponents of the bill said the real intent of the measure is to force abortion clinics to close. They also said there is a strong chance that it would draw a lawsuit. Courts have blocked admitting privileges laws in at least four states, according to the Tulsa World.

State Rep. Kay Floyd (D), said, "At the very least, we ought to change the effective date to 2015 instead of 2014 until we see how [cases in other states] are resolved." She noted that the Oklahoma Legislature has advanced at least 18 bills in recent years that were later deemed unconstitutional (Krehbiel, Tulsa World, 2/28).