This week, women's healthcare providers in Ohio and Oklahoma challenging anti-abortion legislation have succeeded in blocking dangerous TRAP laws in two of the most hostile states in the nation for reproductive rights.
On Tuesday, in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of HB64, a 2015 measure which automatically suspends ambulatory surgical facilities (ASFs) licenses should the state's Department of Health deny an application for variance or neglect to process it within 60 days of receipt. Facilities providing abortion care must also maintain written transfer agreements with hospitals within 30 miles, though clinics are banned from acquiring such agreements from public hospitals.
According to Kellie Copeland, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio's Executive Director, abortion providers should not be forced to adhere to "medically unnecessary" restrictions."Transfer agreements and license application restrictions do not improve patient care in any way," said Copeland. "In fact, the abortion restrictions signed by Gov. Kasich make it harder for women to access safe care from a doctor. They are bad policies and bad politics."
Ohio, which has also imposed a 24-hour waiting period for abortions as well rigid regulations on medication abortion, has seen the number of clinics drop from 14 in 2013 to just 9 statewide. Tuesday's decision will keep two of those remaining nine open.
Meanwhile in Oklahoma, a state court judge ordered a measure banning dilation and evacuation abortions (D and Es) - the most common second-trimester termination procedure - be blocked on Wednesday.
In the eighth lawsuit in five years filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) targeting TRAP laws nationwide, the court granted a temporary injunction against HB 1721, a measure criminalizing abortion providers performing D and Es in Ohio, fining them $10,000 or a sentencing of up to two years in prison for carrying out the procedure. The judge left intact HB 1409, however, permitting doctors to refuse to perform abortion on ethical, moral or religious grounds and forcing women seeking abortions to wait 72 hours for the procedure.
President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights Nancy Northup calls the repeated legislative actions by conservative lawmakers in the state "unacceptable." Oklahoma politicians have made it their mission to block women from safe and legal abortion when they need it most, trampling the rights afforded to women by their state constitution in the process," said Northup. "When faced with an unintended pregnancy, Oklahoma women need high-quality care, not forced delays or measures that criminalize their doctors."
HB 1409 is scheduled to take effect November 1.
Media Resources: Media Resources: National Partnership for Women and Families 10/14/15; 10/15/15