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Oklahoma Supreme Court Strikes Down Pro-Life Abortion Laws

by Steven Ertelt | Oklahoma City, OK | LifeNews.com | 12/4/12 7:17 PM

State

The Oklahoma state Supreme Court has struck down two pro-life laws dealing with abortion.

One law allows women a chance to see the ultrasound that is typically done of the unborn child prior to the abortion. The second law places limits on how the dangerous abortion drug RU 486, which has killed dozens of women and injured thousands more, is dispensed.

The ultrasound law came under suit from a Tulsa-based abortion business after the state legislature voted overwhelmingly to override Governor Brad Henry on two pro-life bills, including the ultrasound measure. Hours later, the Center for Reproductive Rights sued to stop enforcement of the pro-life law in Oklahoma County District Court.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Nova Health Systems, which operates an abortion center in Tulsa and has filed lawsuits against pro-life legislation over the years. Larry Burns, who does abortions in Norman, also is a party on the lawsuit.

The suit claims the ultrasound measure is unconstitutionally vague, violates women’s and abortion practitioner’s constitutional speech rights, is an impermissible special law, and “impermissibly burdens the fundamental rights of plaintiffs’ patients to terminate a pregnancy and avoid unwanted speech in a private setting.”

“In addition, the Act exposes abortion providers to an array of intimidating civil and administrative penalties to which no other health care providers in the state are exposed,” the lawsuit complains.

Violations are also punishable by fines of $10,000 for the first offense of an abortion practitioner failing to give a woman a chance to view the ultrasound of her baby. There is a $50,000 fine for the second offense, $100,000 for the third, and more than $100,000 per offense thereafter.

Mary Spaulding Balch, an attorney who is the director of the Department of State Legislation at the National Right to Life Committee, talked with LifeNews.com after one of the lower court decisions.

She said, “Ultrasound is a window to the womb which provides mothers with the opportunity to accurately see their unborn children moving, kicking and very much alive.”

Balch continued:  “Ultrasound laws save lives. According to a 2011 Quinnipiac University study, “ultrasound requirement laws reduce the odds of a woman having an abortion quite substantially.” This finding would explain why ultrasound laws provoke such powerful reactions of our opponents even though ultrasounds are routinely performed and are required by abortion providers prior to the performance of any abortion. This law is necessary to ensure that mothers have the opportunity to view an ultrasound prior to consenting to an abortion.”

“This law protects a mother’s right to know something about her developing unborn child. It gives her a window to her womb. It helps to prevent her from making a decision she may regret for the rest of her life and it empowers her with the most accurate information about her pregnancy so that she can make a truly informed ‘choice’,” Balch added.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed the abortion drug bill into law.

The measure, the Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act (HB 1970) received approval in the Senate by an overwhelming majority of 39-6. The bill, based upon Americans United for Life’s model of the same name, previously passed the Oklahoma House 83-5.

The law requires that abortion providers dispense abortion-inducing drugs only in the way tested and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and outlined in the drug’s label. These requirements will prevent the dangerous “off-label” use of abortion-inducing drugs that have killed at least seven women in the United States alone—an “off-label” use that Planned Parenthood readily admits, on its website and in court documents, to using.

Representative Randy Grau and Senator Greg Treat introduced the bill for the purpose of protecting women from the proven dangers inherent in abortion drugs.  The bill requires that physicians examine a woman before dispensing an abortion-inducing drug to assess the stage of the pregnancy and to ensure that she does not have any hidden conditions making the drug even more dangerous for her.

Assistant Attorney General Victoria Tindall represented the state and said the law should be upheld “for the protection of women” from a drug that has killed dozens of women worldwide, including 14 in the United States, and injured more than 2,200 women in the U.S. alone, according to April 2001 FDA figures.

“These drugs are not safe,” she said, according to AP. “They do need to be administered by the protocols that have been tested and approved by the FDA.”

Previously, Americans United for Life attorney Mailee Smith commented on the legal battle over the law.

“In the United States alone, at least fourteen women have died following use of RU-486.  Eight of those women died from sepsis (bacterial infection), and in each of those cases the woman had been told to use the RU-486 drug regimen in a manner unapproved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Of the remaining deaths, two women died from ruptured ectopic pregnancy—a condition that could have been treated had the woman been properly examined prior to receiving the drugs,” she explained. “In sum, it is possible that at least 10 of the 14 deaths could have been prevented if the abortion providers had screened women and provided the drugs according to the way the FDA has instructed.”

“To that end, the law in Oklahoma simply requires that 1) abortion drugs be dispensed only by a physician; 2) the physician examine the woman prior to providing the drugs; and 3) the physician follow the guidelines agreed to by the FDA and the drug manufacturer for dispensing the drugs, which is outlined explicitly in the drug’s label (and sometimes referred to as the “FDA protocol” for administering abortion drugs),” she continued.

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“CRR has argued also that the “off-label” use of abortion drugs (like RU-486) is safer than following the FDA’s protocol.  Yet there are no peer-reviewed studies demonstrating that off-label use of abortion drugs is safe.  To the contrary, studies have demonstrated that surgical abortions have less frequent complications, and by Planned Parenthood’s own admission, off-label use of abortion drugs has come at the cost of women’s lives and “higher-than-expected” consequences to health,” she concluded.

Off-label usage of the abortion drug has been a concern for years and Planned Parenthood previously told women using it to use the drug vaginally instead of orally, as recommended by the FDA. That causes the introduction of bacteria that resulted in lethal infections causing their deaths.

Although Planned Parenthood eventually changed its protocol to follow the FDA suggestion to take the drug orally, it still dispenses improper doses of the drug that could still place women at risk.