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Judge Allows Okla. Admitting Privileges Law To Take Effect This Week; Appeal Expected

October 27, 2014 — Oklahoma County District Judge Bill Graves ruled Friday that a state law (SB 1848) requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals can take effect on Nov. 1, the AP/ABC News reports (Murphy, AP/ABC News, 10/24).

Case Details

The lawsuit challenging the provision was filed on behalf of physician Larry Burns, owner of the Abortion Surgery Center in Norman, Okla. Burns provides 44% of abortions in the state, according to his attorneys. The facility is one of just three abortion clinics in Oklahoma (Clay, Oklahoman, 10/25).

Burns' attorneys said that the law would force Burns to close the clinic because he has not been able to meet the admitting privileges requirement after applying at 16 hospitals (AP/ABC News, 10/24). The attorneys asked the judge to block the law while constitutional challenges against it are resolved (Oklahoman, 10/25).

Meanwhile, state attorneys argued that the law is constitutional and needed to protect women's health (AP/ABC News, 10/24).

Ruling Details

In his ruling, Graves said that Burns did not seek the admitting privileges in a timely manner. He wrote, "If [Burns] has not heard back from all of the places to which he applied, it is his own fault and there is no violation of due process." Graves said Burns did not apply to a hospital until 51 days after the law was signed and waited another month to apply to a second hospital.

Graves also said that Burns' attorneys did not show he was likely to succeed on the merits of the case. Graves denied requests for both a temporary injunction and a temporary restraining order against the law (Oklahoman, 10/25).

Appeal Expected

Burns' lawyers said they plan to appeal the ruling to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Nancy Northup -- president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing Burns in the case -- said the requirements "would put Oklahoma among the ranks of several states in the region that have endangered women's health and safety by eliminating critical services for those who have made the decision to end a pregnancy" (AP/ABC News, 10/24).