Oklahoma AG appeals ruling against abortion drug restrictions

[JURIST] Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt [official profile] on Thursday appealed [text, PDF] a ruling [docket materials] that struck down an Oklahoma law [HB 1970 text] restricting how doctors may use abortion-inducing drugs to treat patients. Three weeks ago, a judge for the District Court of Oklahoma County invalidated the Oklahoma law [JURIST report] on the grounds that it violated women's fundamental rights to privacy and bodily integrity under the Oklahoma Constitution [text]. In his appeal, Pruitt contended that the trial court erred in holding that the Oklahoma Constitution contains the right to an abortion:

The trial court in this case held that the Oklahoma Constitution contains a fundamental right never before recognized by any Oklahoma court: the right to an abortion. The trial court did so based on its erroneous belief that the Oklahoma Constitution must be read in lockstep with the federal constitution, and did so despite the overwhelming and undisputed historical evidence establishing that the drafters of Oklahoma's Constitution did not intend it to contain a right to an abortion. Indeed, Oklahoma has always criminalized abortion.
It is unclear when an appellate court will hear arguments relating to Pruitt's appeal.

The Oklahoma law restricting the use of abortion-inducing drugs was scheduled to take effect on November 1, 2011, but was temporarily blocked [JURIST report] in October. Oklahoma has passed several restrictive abortion laws in recent years. In April 2011, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin [official profile] signed into law [JURIST report] a bill [HB 1888 materials] prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks. The law allows abortions past the 20-week mark only in certain extenuating circumstances where the mother faces death or serious injury. A doctor who performs an abortion in violation of the time limit would be subject to criminal prosecution for a felony, but the woman undergoing the procedure would not face a penalty. Last year, an Oklahoma state judge extended a temporary injunction [JURIST report] blocking enforcement of a law [HB 2780 text, RTF] that would require women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound and hear a description of the fetus. In May 2010, the Oklahoma Senate [official website] voted to override the veto of a bill [HB 3284 text, RTF] that would require women seeking an abortion to complete a questionnaire, answering questions such as marital status, reasons for seeking the abortion, and whether the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

 

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