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Oklahoma judge finds broad abortion law unconstitutional

[JURIST] Oklahoma state court judge Vicki Robertson ruled [transcript, PDF] Tuesday that a state law [SB 1878, DOC] requiring women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound within an hour of the procedure violates the Oklahoma Constitution [text]. Without reaching the validity the of the ultrasound requirement itself, the judge held [transcript, PDF] that the law violated a constitutional requirement that legislation only address one issue. The law also included sections on requirements for abortion clinic signs, the administration of an early-term abortion pill, and rules on lawsuits relating to abortions. Attorneys for the state had argued that the law did not violate the constitution because its substance all related to the broader issue of abortion, and have indicated that they will likely appeal [NYT report] the ruling.

Controversy on abortion laws has also continued in other states. Earlier this month, the Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation (DFPR) [official website] granted doctors a 90-day grace period [statement, PDF; JURIST report] for enforcement of the state's parental notification requirement for minors obtaining abortions, a law which one scholar has called "unnecessary" and "dangerous" [JURIST op-ed]. That announcement followed a decision [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] last month by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] that reversed a district court injunction [JURIST report] barring the law's enforcement. In June 2007, the governor of New Hampshire signed a repeal of the state's parental notification law [JURIST report], which never took effect. In 2006, voters in Oregon and California rejected statutes that would have required notification [JURIST report], although those measures allowed minors to request a judge to bypass the requirement.

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