Oklahoma judge strikes down multi-part abortion law

[JURIST] Oklahoma state court judge Daniel Owens ruled [press release; docket] Friday that a state law [HB 1595, PDF], making it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion based on the gender of a fetus and requiring numerous reporting requirements, violates the Oklahoma Constitution [text]. Owens found that the law, called the Statistical Reporting of Abortions Act, violated the constitutional requirement that a law cover only a single subject. Provisions of the law banned doctors from performing an abortion based on a women's desire for a baby of a specific sex, required doctors to ask a series of more than 35 questions inquiring into a woman's relationships and reasons for wanting an abortion, and set up a website that would have displayed demographics based on the information gathered. The law allowed for criminal charges against doctors who failed to report the information. Oklahoma legislators have said [Oklahoman report] they will work around the ruling by passing separate bills to cover each subject of the invalidated law.

The law was challenged [petition, PDF] last year by the Center for Reproductive Rights [advocacy website] on behalf of two Oklahoma residents. In August a different state law [SB 1878, DOC] requiring women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound within an hour of the procedure was found to be unconstitutional [JURIST report]. That legislation was declared to be invalid based on the same single subject requirement. Provisions of that law also included requirements for abortion clinic signs, the administration of an early-term abortion pill, and rules on lawsuits relating to abortions. That ruling has been appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court [official website].



 

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