Abortion Backers Want Pro-Life Group to Divulge Membership List

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 10, 2011   |   12:31PM   |   Oklahoma City, OK

As part of their lawsuit seeking to overturn a new pro-life law in Oklahoma that allows women a chance to see an ultrasound of their baby before an abortion, pro-abortion activists are also threatening a pro-life group.

The abortion industry has sent its high-priced lawyers after Oklahomans For Life with an invasive court subpoena which would require the pro-life group to divulge countless internal documents, communications, email lists, and mailing lists.

Tony Lauinger, the state director of the organization, explained what is happening in an email to LifeNews.

“The subpoena was not issued by a judge, but by a lawyer for the abortion industry in their lawsuit against the State of Oklahoma. Oklahoma abortion facilities are trying to overturn our Ultrasound law enacted in 2010,” he said. “If Oklahomans For Life is not successful in fighting this subpoena, we could be forced to give vital private information to the abortion industry, and if we left something out, we could be subject to fines or even jail.”

So what did Oklahomans For Life do to deserve such a subpoena?

“We simply advocated in favor of pro-life laws,” Lauinger said. “We worked for the enactment of the Ultrasound law that provides a woman the chance to see her unborn child as part of the informed-consent process prior to an abortion.”

“According to the abortion industry lawyers, our advocacy on behalf of unborn children is enough for them to force Oklahomans For Life, under penalty of contempt of court, to divulge thousands of documents of private information, including our email list,” Lauinger continued. “We are fighting the abortion industry in court, but it is a David v. Goliath battle. We are a small non-profit organization, and they are a huge multi-national industry that makes millions of dollars from aborting babies.”

Lauinger is concerned that, if abortion backers are successful in Oklahoma in forcing a pro-life group to turn over its membership and donors lists as well as internal communications that the same kinds of attacks may occur against pro-life groups in other states.

“The abortion industry knows who the effective pro-life advocates in Oklahoma are, and they have singled out Oklahomans For Life as their advocacy-group target. The abortion industry could use any information they would get through the subpoena to harass pro-life citizens, not only in Oklahoma, but in other parts of the country, as well,” he explains. “If we stop them in court now, they are less likely to export this tactic to other states.”

“We are determined to win this fight against the abortion industry,” he said.

In May 2010, a judge suspended the ultrasound law and granted the injunction sought by a Tulsa-based abortion business and Norman-based abortion practitioner. 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.

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.

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.