Two new laws in Oklahoma, one that requires a woman to view an ultrasound before having an abortion, which does not exclude any cases of incest or rape, and another that makes it impossible for parents to sue a doctor for knowingly misinforms them about the health of their fetus, were made into law. Although these were originally vetoed by Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry (D), the House of Representatives, as well as the Senate, voted to overturn the vetos and enacted the measures into law. The Republican majority had their way in the end.
Republican supporters say that this is a victory for life. Others are not so sure, and believe that both of these laws are a violation of a woman’s civil rights, and also say that these new abortion laws are unconstitutional.
In an article by James C. McKinley Jr. entitled Strict Abortion Measures Enacted in Oklahoma, in the New York Times, Republican State Senator Glenn Coffee was quoted as saying;
“This is a good day for the cause of life,” and “The voice of the people has spoken twice now this session in the Senate and twice in the House, and I sincerely hope those who would reverse the people’s voice would think twice before acting.” Full article can be read here.
Brad Henry however, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying;
“Both laws will be challenged and, in all likelihood, overturned by the courts as unconstitutional,” and “I fear this entire exercise will ultimately be a waste of taxpayers’ time and money.” Read the full article here.
The medical establishment seems to be in support of at least one of the new laws because it helps to protect doctors from lawsuits. In a Yahoo News report, Oklahoma abortion law headed for legal challenge next week, Wes Glinsmann of the Oklahoma State Medical Association was quoted as saying;
“We’ve sort of adopted a position that anything that’s going to provide greater protection from frivolous lawsuits we generally support.” Read the whole article here.
Although the laws have already been passed, many are planning to challenge them in court, citing that the laws are unconstitutional, and that they go against a parent’s civil rights. The law regarding mandatory ultrasounds further mandates that the viewing screen be placed where the patient can see it and forces the mother to listen to a full description of the fetus, according to the Yahoo News, and Fox News reports.
The other law, regarding the patients in ability to sue the doctor for misinformation includes misinformation concerning any possible birth defects that the fetus may suffer from, according to Fox News, and the New York Times.
These bills were originally part of one all encompassing bill that was shot down by the courts on a technicality. Oklahoma constitutional law requires that each bill only deal with one law at a time, so Republican leaders found a solution. According to the aforementioned New York Times report;
“This year, Republican leaders broke the omnibus bill into pieces to satisfy the courts’ concerns, passing several separate anti-abortion measures. Mr. Henry has signed two into law: a measure requiring clinics to post signs stating that a woman cannot be forced to have an abortion, and another making it illegal to have an abortion because of the sex of a child. “
Other laws, which are currently undergoing legislative process, include one that will require women to fill out a lengthy questionnaire, the results of which will be posted online, and another that will disallow insurance to cover the procedure, according to the New York Times article.
These laws would stand in addition to the current Oklahoma law of counseling and a 24 hour waiting period.