Oklahoma non-surgical abortion restrictions challenged

Oklahoma non-surgical abortion restrictions challenged

[JURIST] Oklahoma women’s healthcare providers on Tuesday filed suit [petition, PDF] in state court stating that Oklahoma’s laws restricting non-surgical abortion procedures are unconstitutional. The petitioners claim that Oklahoma House Bill 2684 [text] “is an unconstitutional intrusion on women’s reproductive rights that will harm women’s health and well-being.” The new law restricts the ability of a women to seek so-called “medication abortion” methods within the early weeks of their pregnancy. The healthcare providers state that medication abortions are “increasingly safer, more effective, able to be used later in pregnancy, more accessible, and with fewer side effects” compared to decade old methods. President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights [advocacy website], Nancy Northup, stated in regards to HB 2684: “[t]he true intent and effect of this law is to deny women an important option for ending a pregnancy safely and legally in the earliest stages. That is plainly unconstitutional, and we are confident that the court, as it has so many times before, will stop it from ever going into effect.”

Reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] continue to be a hot-button legal issue throughout the US, with a number of states proposing laws to limit abortions. Last month Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood [official website] filed an appeal asking the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] to reverse a July ruling [JURIST report] that a 2012 state law requiring abortion clinic doctors to obtain hospital admitting privileges is unconstitutional. Also last month the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Northern Division [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Alabama’s recently enacted [JURIST op-ed] requirement [HB 57] that all doctors who provide abortions must have staff privileges to perform designated procedures at a local hospital is unconstitutional. In April West Virginia’s governor vetoed a bill [JURIST report] that would have banned abortions later than 20 weeks after conception. Also in April the Fifth Circuit upheld a Texas law similar to the one enacted in Alabama that requires physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. In March the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the Kansas legislature can withhold federal funding for two Planned Parenthood clinics.