On April 27, 2010 Oklahoma passed new abortion legislation, making it the strictest in the nation. This new law is causing a huge stir among women’s rights groups, politicians and political activists, and citizens in general.
There are three major points in this new legislation:
1.Women seeking an abortion will be forced to not only undergo an ultrasound, but to also listen to their doctor during the ultrasound while he verbally describes to them such things as the baby’s organs, heart and limbs. Women do have the right to not look at the ultrasound screen.
2.Women seeking an abortion will have to answer a series of invasive questions. Answers to these questions will be publically posted, with names omitted, on a website.
3.There will be no exceptions in the law for those seeking abortions who became pregnant due to incest or rape.
In addition, a second measure was passed into Oklahoma law on April 27, 2010. This measure prevents a woman with a disabled baby from suing her physician if that physician purposely withheld information about birth defects while the baby was in the uterus. Basically speaking, Oklahoma obstetricians have now been given carte blanche to lie to patients about the health of their patients’ babies if they feel that a patient may seek an abortion based upon revealing such information.
Every aspect of this new abortion legislation in Oklahoma is causing a heated debate. Clearly, many are upset about a physician being able to withhold vital information about birth defects because it will leave moms guessing about the health of their new baby. They won’t be able to prepare for a special needs baby, or one that may not live long after birth.
Abortion rights activists have labeled the survey portion of the law ‘intolerable’. It is considered to be a huge invasion of privacy, and there is debate about whether there is any valid public health reason for having the survey at all. Some fear the psychological effect it will have on the women. Others believe women will worry about somehow being identified on the website based on their survey answers.
There are questions being raised about this bill as a whole. Governor Brad Henry, Democrat, said of the ultrasound law that it “was flawed because it did not exempt rape and incest victims and would allow an unconstitutional intrusion into a woman’s privacy.” The New York based organization Center for Reproductive Rights is challenging the ultrasound portion of the law as “unconstitutional.” The group also argued that the law “violates the doctor’s freedom of speech, the woman’s right to equal protection and the woman’s right to privacy.”
Still, others such as Linda Meek, excutive director of Reproductive Services in Tulsa, Oklahoma feel that “If they want to reduce the number of abortions, then they need to concentrate on educating women about preventing unwanted pregnancies, educating them about emergency contraception, birth control – and making birth control more accessible.”