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NRL News
Page 5
September 2009
Volume 36
Issue 9

Judge Nullifies Pro-Life Oklahoma Law on Technicality
By Liz Townsend

Without ruling on the merits of its individual provisions, Oklahoma County District Judge Vicki Robertson struck down a 2008 pro-life law because it dealt with more than one subject. The state attorney general’s office plans to appeal the August 18 decision, according to the Oklahoma City Journal Record.

 “The judge struck down the law on a technicality, saying the law violates the ‘single-subject’ rule,” Tony Lauinger, state chairman of Oklahomans for Life, told NRL News. “We believe the judge is mistaken. The subject matter of all five of these bills is very closely related. All were germane to each other. All deal with abortion. We believe the decision should be overturned on appeal.”

Senate Bill 1878, passed in April 2008 when the state House and Senate overrode Democratic Gov. Brad Henry’s veto, was scheduled to go into effect last November. However, the abortion clinic Reproductive Services of Tulsa challenged the law immediately and Robertson enjoined the law before it could be enforced, Tulsa World reported.

The law included several important provisions to protect women’s health and to help them make an informed choice before they have an abortion. It required an abortionist to provide an ultrasound at least one hour before an abortion, make sure the screen is visible to the woman, and explain the images. The woman could refuse to look at the ultrasound if she chose.

“This lawsuit shows the lengths to which the abortion industry will go to try to keep from pregnant women the truth about their unborn children,” said Lauinger. “The information provided by the ultrasound provisions of this law are essential for a woman to be able to give truly informed consent for an abortion.”

In addition, the omnibus bill protected the right of health care workers and facilities to conscientiously object to performing abortions; required abortionists to follow guidelines issued by the Food and Drug Administration when performing abortions using RU486 and provided for thorough reporting of any complications suffered by the aborting woman; denied claims for “wrongful life” lawsuits that contend that a disabled baby would have been better off if he or she had never been born; and protected women from forced abortions, requiring a prominently posted sign in abortion clinics stating, “It is against the law for anyone, regardless of his or her relationship to you, to force you to have an abortion.”

“If we lose on appeal,” Lauinger said, “the five provisions will be reintroduced as five separate bills and reenacted that way.”

The abortion clinic attempted to argue that the provisions of the law “infringed on a woman’s right to privacy, violated her dignity and endangered her health,” according to the Washington Post. However, pro-life supporters of the bill insisted that it would do the opposite, giving women the facts about their babies’ humanity and protecting them from coercion and injury.

“The court’s ruling is by no means a condemnation of the commonsense protections provided for in the legislation,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, director of NRLC’s Department of State Legislation. “The court’s decision was based solely on a procedural violation and not the substantive matters addressed in the bill.”

“When all is said and done and the dust has settled from the court’s ruling we fully expect that each of these laws will be given full effect in Oklahoma,” Balch added.