An Oklahoma County judge refused Tuesday to block an Oklahoma law that puts in place a 72-hour waiting period for women who seek to have abortions.
House Bill 1409, which passed in November 2015, was challenged in Oklahoma County District Court that year by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic, an abortion facility in the state.
On Tuesday, Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia G. Parrish issued an order that declined to put the law on hold, according to Tulsa World News.
“After weighing the expert testimony offered by both parties, the court holds that HB 1409 furthers a valid and legitimate state interest in protecting the patient and that it does not unduly burden or place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman’s right to choose,” her order says.
House Bill 1409 raised the state waiting period for abortions from 24 to 72 hours. This pro-life legislation is critical because it offers women time to fully understand the gravity of abortion.
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In 2015, the president of Oklahomans for Life, Tony Lauinger, commented on the importance of HB 1409 to LifeNews:
“HB 1409 improves our current abortion-informed-consent law by providing a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion, requiring that abortion facilities, on their websites, link to the state’s Woman’s Right to Know website, and providing that mothers considering abortion be informed that “abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”
“The purpose of the bill is to provide a better opportunity for adequate reflection — following receipt of informed-consent information about risks, alternatives, and the development of the unborn child — before undertaking the irrevocable step of going through with an abortion.”
It was the second major pro-life bill that Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law, after she signed a bill banning dismemberment abortions. The law made Oklahoma the fifth state in the U.S. to require the 72-hour waiting period, after Missouri, North Carolina, South Dakota and Utah.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter defended HB 1409 with a statement from his office:
“The U.S. Supreme Court has already recognized that reflection periods ensure that important decisions such as abortion will be more informed and deliberate, and the district court faithfully followed this precedent…Studies have shown that women who have the benefit of a reflection period like this change their minds in a significant percentage of cases, saving precious unborn lives.
“Moreover, this law has been in place since 2015, and the facts developed in this case demonstrate that women in Oklahoma are not unduly burdened by this legislation.”
The National Right to Life Committee previously pointed out that waiting periods and informed consent requirements that tell women that “abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being” are not new. In fact, it is language that already has been upheld by the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.