by Steven Ertelt
November 13, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Two new abortion laws approved by the Oklahoma state legislature are now in effect, including a measure requiring the consent of one parent before a teenager can have an abortion and another giving women the option to see an ultrasound of her unborn baby before the abortion is done.
Last week, the Oklahoma Board of Health approved the consent form parents must use to allow a teenager to have an abortion. Abortion practitioners are required to keep the forms on hand for five years to prove they obtained the required consent.
Sen. Don Barrington, a Republican from Lawton who authored the bill, told the Tulsa World newspaper the law is necessary to help parents direct their children to make better decisions than abortion.
"I believe that our minor children are the responsibility of their parents until such time as they become adults," Barrington said. "It should be a decision that the parents should be aware of."
The legislation he sponsored also includes a provision allowing a mother to view an ultrasound before the abortion.
When women going to crisis pregnancy centers view an ultrasound, they almost always decide against having an abortion. Lawmakers hope a high percentage of women will change their mind after viewing one at an abortion business.
Linda Meek, executive administrator of Reproductive Services of Tulsa, an abortion center, told the World newspaper that she opposes the law because it’s designed to persuade women not to have an abortion.
She said these kinds of laws "are less to encourage women to seek information than to discourage them to seek an abortion."
But Barrington said the ultrasounds "could be a step in helping (women) make the determination whether they want to go through with the procedure or not go through with the procedure."
"The ultrasound is an option, not a mandate," he told the newspaper. "When you’re making a life decision, you should at least have available to you all of the information that’s available to help you make an informed decision."
Nova Health Systems, the parent group of the Tulsa’s Reproductive Services abortion center, filed a lawsuit against the new laws and asked for an injunction preventing the law from going into effect during its lawsuit to overturn it.
However, a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver rejected the request in August.
Nova filed the lawsuit just minutes after Democratic Gov. Brad Henry signed the bill into law in May.
The abortion business claims the law is problematic by not establishing deadlines on how quickly state courts must approve judicial bypass requests for teens to avoid telling their parents about an abortion. Such requests are supposed to be reserved for cases of abuse, but abortion advocates frequently hire lawyers to help teens avoid the notification requirement.
Also under the measure, women contemplating an abortion would be told that their unborn child after 20 weeks of pregnancy will likely feel intense pain during the abortion. They are given the option to administer anesthesia to the baby beforehand.
When he signed the bill, Henry said the limits on abortion in it were reasonable.
"Senate Bill 1742 includes measured restrictions on abortion," Henry said. "This legislation strikes a reasonable balance on a contentious issue."
The proposal also includes a measure that would allow prosecutors to charge criminals with two crimes when they assault a pregnant woman and kill or injure the unborn child and would send state family planning funds to pregnancy centers.
The House signed off on the measures and the Senate approved them in a combined bill on a 38-8 vote. All of the Senate Republicans supported the bill and all but eight Democrats did as well.
Oklahomans for Life chairman Tony Lauinger said the measure Henry signed will provide hope for pregnant women and their unborn children.