Oklahoma Supreme Court Strikes Down Anti-Abortion Law

| by Robert Fowler
The Oklahoma State CapitolThe Oklahoma State Capitol

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has struck down a state law that would place tough restrictions on abortion providers. The court ruled that the legislation was unconstitutional because it contained too many divergent provisions.

On Oct. 4, Oklahoma's highest court ruled that a new law passed by the state’s GOP-dominated government in 2015 was unconstitutional, Reuters reports.

The bill would have required that abortion providers take and store samples of fetal tissue from patients aged 14 and below. The legislation would also impose new criminal penalties on providers who help minors procure an abortion without parental consent.

Finally, the new law called for a tougher inspection and licensing system for Oklahoma clinics.

The Center for Reproductive Rights of New York had challenged the Oklahoma law, alleging that it was discriminatory to abortion providers.

All nine members of the Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the law was unconstitutional, citing that the bill had too many provisions that were unrelated.

While the state attorney general had argued in court that the legislation’s provisions all fell under the umbrella of women’s health, the Oklahoma Supreme Court was unconvinced.

"We reject defendants’ arguments and find this legislation violates the single subject rule as each of these sections is so unrelated and misleading that a legislator voting on this matter could have been left with an unpalatable all-or-nothing choice,” wrote Justice Joseph Watt.

Four other judges added a concurring opinion where they asserted that the bill was unconstitutional because it placed an undue burden on women seeking abortions.

“[The law] was nothing but a cynical attack on women’s health and rights by unjustly targeting their trusted health care providers,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

On Sept. 17, the Trust Women South Wind Women's Center in Oklahoma City welcomed its first patients. It is the first abortion clinic to open in the state capitol since 1974, according to the Associated Press.

The new clinic has been met with disapproval by some local residents and anti-abortion activists.

“We are grieved to hear of the abortion industry moving into south Oklahoma City, and we will do all we can to pray for a change of heart for all involved,” said Lorryn McGarry, a spokeswoman for the anti-abortion group Holy Innocents Foundation of Oklahoma.

Local resident Carly Ketcham told KWTV that she was worried that the new clinic would hurt her property value.

The Oklahoma City resident said that she was angered by the clinic opening up close to her house because of “the economy factor and my religious beliefs.”

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported that 79,038 abortions were performed on state residents from 2002 to 2015.

Sources: Associated Press via Motto, KWTVReuters / Photo Credit: Serge Melki/Flickr

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