Associated Press: Judge extends order blocking Okla. abortion law
By Tim Talley
“An Oklahoma judge granted an injunction Monday blocking enforcement of a state law that would require women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus.
Oklahoma County District Judge Noma Gurich set a pretrial hearing for Jan. 21 and directed that the state not enforce the law, which was passed by legislators this year. A temporary restraining order against the law had been in effect since May.”
“The Center for Reproductive Rights in New York challenged the law on behalf of Nova Health Systems, operator of Reproductive Services of Tulsa, and Dr. Larry Burns, who the group said provides abortions in Norman.
The group has said the ultrasound law is the strictest such requirement in the country and has asked Gurich to declare it unconstitutional, arguing in court filings that women could be forced to hear information that might not be relevant to their medical care.
‘Over a woman’s objection she must be shown an ultrasound image,’ Stephanie Toti, an attorney for the abortion rights group, said during oral arguments on its request for an injunction. Toti said the ultrasound requirement suggests that ‘women are inherently incapable of caring for themselves.'”
She also said the law is vague concerning what abortion providers are required to say about an ultrasound to women seeking an abortion and violates the free speech rights of providers by forcing them to describe the fetus’ dimensions, age and whether a heartbeat, limbs and organs are present.”
“Last spring, Oklahoma legislators passed eight laws to restrict abortions. Gov. Brad Henry signed four and vetoed four — but the Legislature overrode three. The remaining veto that stood would have restricted insurance companies from providing coverage for elective abortions.”
“Toti said her group would likely challenge other Oklahoma abortion laws, including one that requires women and abortion doctors to complete a lengthy questionnaire.”