Oklahoma Judge Tosses Abortion-Ultrasound law on Procedural Technicality
by Steven Ertelt
August 18, 2009
Oklahoma City, OK (LifeNews.com) — A state judge in Oklahoma has struck down a pro-life law that would allow women a chance to see an ultrasound of their baby before the abortion begins. An abortion business, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion law firm based in New York, filed suit to prevent women from seeing them.
The pro-abortion law firm filed the suit on behalf of Nova Health Systems which operates the Reproductive Services abortion business in Tulsa.
In the case of Nova Health Systems v. Henry, the County District Court in Oklahoma struck down SB 1878.
Mary Spaulding Balch, the director of state legislation for the National right to Life Committee, told LifeNews.com after the decision that NRLC and its state affiliate, Oklahomans for Life, supported the measure.
The courts ruling is by no means a condemnation of the commonsense protections provided for in the legislation, Balch explained. The courts decision was based solely on a procedural issue and not the substantive matters addressed in the bill.
The court determined that the law violated Oklahomas single-subject rule which requires legislation only deal with one issue at the time. SB 1878 was an omnibus bill that addressed five abortion-related issues.
The law also includes protection for the conscience rights of health care professionals to refuse to participate in abortions, puts more limits in place on the dangerous abortion drug RU 486, and makes sure women are not pressured or forced into having an abortion.
In an attempt to prohibit coercive abortions the law required abortion centers to display a simple sign stating that no-one can force a woman to have an abortion against her will. Along with protecting the essential right of conscience, the law would have prevented wrongful birth lawsuits that argue a child should have never been born.
Balch says she expects a victory, ultimately, once the lawsuit has reached its conclusion.
When all is said and done and the dust has settled from todays ruling we fully expect that each of these laws will be given full effect in Oklahoma, Balch said.
Judge Vickie Robertson, who temporarily blocked enforcement of the law in October pending the outcome of the case, heard from abortion advocates who claimed letting women get more information is a bad thing.
"It is both an affront to the woman’s decision-making power and to her dignity," said Stephanie Toti, of the CRR law firm.
Teresa Collett, special assistant attorney general who is defending the law, said none of the claims of the abortion advocates have any merit. She said a jury trial is unlikely because the facts are not in dispute in the case.
Collett, a pro-life attorney representing the state, told KFOR previously that the law is perfectly constitutional.
"In this instance, the plaintiffs are trying to avoid what’s clearly a constitutional law because they are trying to establish a right to abortion under the state constitution. It just doesn’t exist. Abortion has been illegal in this state since 1890, since we were a territory," she said.
Judge Robertson’s decision is expected to be appealed.
Gov. Brad Henry vetoed the measure, SB 1878, but members of the state legislature easily overrode the veto to put the law in place.
Nova Health Systems has challenged Oklahoma laws in the past that are designed to reduce abortions.
It challenged a measure requiring the consent of one parent before a teenager can have an abortion. However, a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver rejected the request.
Tony Lauinger, the head of Oklahomans for Life, told LifeNews.com previously that the "pro-life bill helps pregnant women, unborn children, pro-life health-care professionals, and persons with disabilities."
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