Oklahoma state Attorney General agreed yesterday to a state judge's order to temporarily block enforcement of a new anti-choice state law for 45 days. The law in question requires medical professionals to show women the ultrasound image and give women a detailed description of the fetus prior to performing an abortion procedure. Oklahoma state law already requires an ultrasound prior to an abortion.
The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) filed a lawsuit against the law on behalf of Nova Health Systems, operators of a Tulsa, Oklahoma, clinic, and Dr. Larry Burns, an Oklahoma abortion provider. According to the Associated Press, CRR planned to argue in court for a temporary restraining order yesterday, but attorneys for the state and CRR agreed to the temporary order prior to the hearing.
The law went into effect immediately following a veto override by the state legislature last week and was in effect for most of last week. Jennifer Mondino, a CRR attorney, told Tulsa World that while the law was in effect, "It was really difficult for our client to have to put their patients through that" and that the CRR is "thrilled the law has been blocked from going into effect while we litigate the issue."
Governor Henry told CNN he vetoed the bill because "State policymakers should never mandate that a citizen be forced to undergo any medical procedure against his or her will, especially when such a procedure could cause physical or mental trauma...To do so amounts to an unconstitutional invasion of privacy."
The CRR lawsuit argues that the new elements of the ultrasound requirement intrude upon patient privacy and, according to a CRR press release, "forces a woman to hear information that she may not want to hear and that may not be relevant to her medical care [and] also dangerously discounts her abilities to make healthy decisions about her own life by forcing her to hear information when she's objected."
The Oklahoma state legislature also overrode the veto of a second anti-choice bill last week that prohibits women from suing doctors who intentionally withhold information or provide misleading or inaccurate information about a pregnancy. In addition to the two vetoes, Henry signed one anti-choice bill, which 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. Henry had also signed three other anti-choice bills into law on April 5. The first of these bills outlaws sex-selective abortion, the second bill institutes a "conscience clause" allowing healthcare providers to refuse to participate in abortion procedures or refer patients to abortion providers, and the third bill puts restrictions on the administration of mifepristone (also known as RU-486) by requiring it be administered in the presence of a physician.
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 ultrasound provision was unconstitutional on the basis that it violated state rules requiring legislation address only a single subject.
Media Resources: Feminist Daily Newswire 4/28/10; Center for Reproductive Rights Press Release 4/27/10; Tulsa World 5/4/10; Associated Press 5/3/10; CNN 4/27/10
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .