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
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .