Oklahoma Legislature Overrides Abortion Reporting Bill Veto
The Oklahoma state legislature overrode Governor Brad Henry's (D) veto of a bill that will require doctors to report detailed information about patients seeking abortions to the government yesterday. The state Senate voted 33 to 15 in favor of the override yesterday and the state House had already voted 84 to 13 Monday. The legislation will go into effect on November 1, 2010 and require reporting forms to be submitted to the Department of health by April 1, 2012.
A spokesperson for Governor Henry, Paul Sund, told Tulsa World, "It is disappointing because every veto override just triggers more lawsuits and legal bills for taxpayers...Similar abortion laws passed by the Legislature were challenged and thrown out by the courts last year, and the latest versions are probably headed for the same fate."
The questionnaire will ultimately be posted on the Oklahoma State Department of Health website and includes information as detailed as a woman's reason for an abortion, her age, marital status, the date of the abortion, and the total number of previous pregnancies, miscarriages, abortions, and live births. Though supporters of the bill argue that the omission of a woman's name and address preserves her right to privacy, opponents assert that it would be possible to identify a woman from a small town from the information to be published.
According to the American Medical Association, "the physician's duty to maintain confidentiality means that a physician may not disclose any medical information revealed by a patient or discovered by a physician in connection with the treatment of a patient. In general, AMA's Code of Medical Ethics states that the information disclosed to a physician during the course of the patient-physician relationship is confidential to the utmost degree. "
In March 2010, the Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld the February ruling of a state District Court saying that an anti-choice law that included the current patient reporting requirements was unconstitutional on the basis that it violated state rules requiring legislation address only a single subject. This law also included provisions requiring detailed descriptions of ultrasounds and prohibiting sex-selective abortions, among other provisions.
The current reporting law is the third piece of anti-choice legislation vetoed by Governor Henry that has been enacted through a legislative override. A law that that would require medical professionals to show women an ultrasound image and give women a detailed description of the fetus prior to performing an abortion procedure went into effect immediately following a veto override by the state legislature in late April 2010 and was in effect for nearly a week. The state Attorney General agreed early in May 2010 to a state judge's order to temporarily block enforcement of this ultrasound law. The Oklahoma state legislature also overrode the veto of a second anti-choice bill in April 2010 that prohibits women from suing doctors who intentionally withhold information or provide misleading or inaccurate information about a pregnancy.
In addition to the three vetoes, Governor Henry has signed several anti-choice bills over the past few months. One requires abortion clinics to post signs in their facilities stating that women cannot be coerced to have an abortion, that a woman's voluntary consent is required to obtain the procedure, and that sex selective abortions are illegal, at the same time. Others outlaw sex-selective abortion, institute a "conscience clause" allowing healthcare providers to refuse to participate in abortion procedures or refer patients to abortion providers, and the put restrictions on the administration of mifepristone (also known as RU-486) by requiring it be administered in the presence of a physician.
Media Resources: Tulsa World 5/26/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/25/10
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .