BY ARNOLD HAMILTON
Finally, some good news for those appalled at the Legislature’s incessant bedroom creeping.
Oklahoma County District Judge Vicki Robertson refused today to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a new anti-abortion law that is remarkably cruel even by Oklahoma’s often self-righteous, intolerant anti-choice standards.
The law passed last spring would prevent a woman from obtaining an abortion until she first underwent an ultrasound and was forced to listen to her doctor describe the fetus in detail.
The Center for Reproductive Rights challenged the law, arguing the law violates the state Constitution and a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. The state wanted the case dismissed, contending the center has no standing to challenge the law in court – even though the center operates a clinic providing abortion services in Tulsa.
Judge Robertson issued a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of the law. She has scheduled another hearing in the case for March 30.
Her refusal to dismiss the lawsuit comes one day after House puritans approved yet another government incursion into the private lives of Oklahomans.
Here’s an overview from Tamya Cox, the program director for ACLU of Oklahoma:
“Yesterday, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed HB 1595 – a fiscally irresponsible and extremely invasive bill introduced by District 71 Rep. Daniel Sullivan [R-Tulsa]. The passage of HB 1595, also known as the Statistical Reporting on Abortion Act, shows that the Oklahoma House condones invasion of privacy for a woman already faced with making a difficult decision.
“HB 1595 requires medical professionals to ask a lengthy series of questions of a female patient, many of which, such as, ‘Reason given for abortion,’ have nothing to do with her health care needs. If these questions are not asked, the bill allows for a cause of action to be brought against the doctor by family members, guardians, the district attorney, attorney general, and any licensed healthcare professionals of the female patient.
“This will become frivolous litigation. It is odd that Rep. Sullivan, who had a tort reform bill pass out of the House recently, introduced this bill which will cost $281,285 initially and $256,285 for subsequent years. In a time when Oklahoma is already facing a budget crisis, this bill unnecessarily increases the cost to taxpayers.
“Also, the reporting of the answers to questions asked of these patients will be posted on the Internet. While names will not be included with this posting, statistics like county of residence, age, race, and marital status will be reported. This makes a woman living in small town Oklahoma very identifiable.
“‘The legislature is once again interfering in the doctor/patient relationship,’ said Tamya Cox, American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma Legislative Counsel. ‘This bill is medically and fiscally unnecessary.’
“Out of 97 House members voting, only four opposed the bill. The ACLU of Oklahoma would like to recognize District 78 Rep. Jeannie McDaniel [D-Tulsa], District 88 Rep. Al McAffrey [D-OKC], District 28 Rep. Ryan Kiesel [D-Seminole] and District 97 Rep. Mike Shelton [D-OKC] for their recognition of a woman’s right to privacy and a brave vote of ‘no’ on HB 1595.
“‘A woman’s brain doesn’t disengage during her pregnancy,” said Rep. McDaniel. “And, between a woman’s uterus and her brain is her heart.”
“Rep. McDaniel also spoke about Oklahoma’s bottom-rung status when it comes to women’s health issues, women’s incarceration percentages, and the health of infants in our state. Rep. Sullivan responded to her list of facts by saying that all of these statistics were true because of the passage of Roe v. Wade. The ACLU of Oklahoma is not sure where Rep. Sullivan got this ‘fact.’
“The ACLU of Oklahoma continually works to empower women and advance equality, as well as protecting everyone’s right to make informed decisions free from government interference about whether and when to become a parent.
“The Oklahoma House of Representatives took a leap in the wrong direction by voting through HB 1595 and infringing upon a woman’s right to choose and her right of privacy.”