Abortion Advocates Sue to Stop Oklahoma Law That Could Close Shoddy Abortion Clinics

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 21, 2016   |   10:51AM   |   Oklahoma City, OK

In 2014, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a law designed to protect women from unethical and unsafe abortion clinics. On Thursday, an abortion advocacy group requested that the Oklahoma Supreme Court overturn the law, which requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital, the Tampa Tribune reports.

Although the law in question hasn’t taken effect yet because of a court injunction, it has sparked a great deal of debate. The Center for Reproductive Rights claimed that it is unconstitutional and intends to shut down abortion facilities.

Oklahoma County’s District Judge Don Andrews rejected this argument earlier in March, explaining that the state “has a legitimate, constitutionally recognized interest in protecting women’s health.” However, Andrews permitted the injunction to stay in place while the case is appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, according to the report.

The report has more details:

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which is based in New York, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Dr. Larry Burns, a Norman physician who performs nearly half of Oklahoma’s abortions. The group said Burns would likely have to close his practice if the law takes effect. The other clinic in the state that performs abortions is Reproductive Services of Tulsa.

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Burns has said he applied for admitting privileges at hospitals in the Oklahoma City area but had not been approved by any facility. Two turned him down because he could not commit to admitting at least six patients a year, according to the organization.

But Andrews said the admitting privileges requirement can be met in other ways, “such as hiring another physician, merging his practice or making some other change to the way he has traditionally practiced.”

The law is in place in order to protect women, as Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest explains: “Common-sense regulation of abortion clinics is not only popular with Americans, it represents the very least that the highly profitable abortion industry should do for women. For too long an under-regulated, rarely monitored and unaccountable abortion industry has pushed the boundaries of the law to increase profits. If abortion clinics are as safe as their lobby claims, why do they fight following the same kinds of standards that apply to other medical facilities?”

In the past five years, different legislation restricting abortion in Oklahoma has been challenged by the New York-based group eight times, according to the report.

Dr. Yoest described the necessity of this law, “Across the country, news of women dying in abortion clinics has been too common and illustrates why under-regulated clinics should not be left to their own devices.”