Oklahoma Law for Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Suspended as Lawsuit Begins
by Steven Ertelt
May 3, 2010
Oklahoma City, OK (LifeNews.com) — A new Oklahoma law that would allow women a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn child before an abortion has been suspended. That’s as the new lawsuit filed by a Tulsa-based abortion business and Norman-based abortion practitioner moves ahead.
The state legislature voted overwhelmingly last week 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.
Today, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson agreed to the court order abortion advocates requested to put a restraining order in place while the lawsuit proceeds. District Judge Noma Gurich informed the Associated Press of the decision.
Gurich said she would hold a hearing in July on a request for a temporary injunction that is longer lasting while the case moves forward and she said she expects to approve it.
Tony Lauinger, state chairman of Oklahomans for Life, told AP he is disappointed the crucial law has to wait while abortion advocates deny women more information. But he believes the law will eventually be upheld.
"We’re sorry to see implementation of the law delayed" Lauinger said. "This has been a long process and apparently it will be a little longer."
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.
The defendants are Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson; Greg Mashburn, the district attorney for Cleveland, Garvin and McClain Counties; Lyle Kelsey, director of the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision; and Dr. Gordon Laird, president of the State Board of Osteopathic Examiners.
Anne Zachritz with the Andrews Davis law firm is the lead local counsel for the pro-abortion legal group.
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 about the bill after the Oklahoma Senate vote.
"This is a victory for the women of Oklahoma and their unborn children. Abortion is a business, the least time spent with a woman, the least information given to her, the more sales made," she said.
"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.
This is the second time Henry has vetoed a measure giving women the right to see an ultrasound of their baby before an abortion. Legislators overrode the veto last time and the head of Oklahomans for Life said before the vetoes that he expects the legislature would try again.
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