Oklahoma Legislature Passes Anti-Choice Law Requiring Publication of Patient Information
The Oklahoma state Senate voted 32 to 11 today in favor of legislation that would require doctors to report detailed information about patients seeking abortions to the government. This information would be posted online. In March, the state House voted 85 to 8 in favor of the legislation, which now goes to Governor Brad Henry (D) for consideration.
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. "
State Senator Jim Wilson (D) told Tulsa World, "I know the bill is presented as a need to understand why people get abortions...We already know that. What this bill does is intimidate women."
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.
Also in Oklahoma, state Attorney General agreed earlier this month to a state judge's order to temporarily block enforcement of a different new state law 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. This law went into effect immediately following a veto override by the state legislature in let April 2010 and was in effect for most of a week.
The Oklahoma state legislature also overrode the veto of a second anti-choice bill in April 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, Governor 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.
Previously, 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.
Media Resources: Tulsa World 5/12/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 10/7/09, 3/4/10, 5/4/10; American Medical Association
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. . . .