Court Throws Out Oklahoma Law Requiring Abortion Docs to Protect Women’s Health

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 14, 2016   |   4:20PM   |   Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a common sense law on Tuesday that would have protected female patients in emergency situations.

The 2014 law required abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges in cases of patient emergencies, according to the Associated Press.

Oklahoma abortion practitioner Larry Burns, of Norman, challenged the law with the help of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights. Burns was unable to obtain hospital admitting privileges, and said he would have to close his abortion practice if the law went into effect.

In their ruling Tuesday, the Oklahoma justices argued that the law creates an undue burden on a woman’s access to abortion in violation of the U.S. Constitution. They also said the law violates a state Constitutional measure that prohibits laws that address more than one subject, according to the report.

Abortion activists praised the decision. In a statement, Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northup claimed the law was an “underhanded attack” against women’s “right to safe, legal abortion.”

The intent of the law was to protect women from unsafe abortion practices. When a lower court upheld the law in March, it wrote that the state “has a legitimate, constitutionally recognized interest in protecting women’s health.”

However, in June, the U.S. Supreme Court set a new precedent when it struck down a similar Texas law, claiming the safety measure created an undue burden on women’s access to abortion.

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Many states passed hospital admitting privileges laws and other abortion facility regulations after news broke of the “house of horrors” Kermit Gosnell abortion case in Philadelphia. The gruesome case brought to light how states were failing to hold abortion facilities accountable to basic health and safety standards. A grand jury in the case recommended many of the regulations to protect women and babies from other abortionists like Gosnell.

A new report from Americans United for Life this week documents thousands of health and safety violations at abortion facilities in the past eight years. The investigative report uncovered about 1,400 violations at abortion facilities in 32 states.

“The Supreme Court wrongly threw out Texas’ health and safety standards, concluding that there was insufficient evidence to support the need for the law. That perceived deficit must be addressed wherever and whenever possible, yet this void exists, in part, because of the scandalously lax manner in which many abortion clinics are monitored,” observed AUL Vice President of Legal Affairs Denise Burke, the report’s author.