Oklahoma top court strikes down law restricting abortion access

Oklahoma top court strikes down law restricting abortion access

[JURIST] The Oklahoma Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion] Tuesday that a state law adding new licensing and inspection rules for facilities that perform abortions is unconstitutional. The court found that the law [SB 642 text] violated a provision [text] of the Oklahoma constitution that mandates each legislative bill have only one subject. The court stated:

We find that each of the four sections of SB 642, lack a common purpose and are not germane, relative and cognate. Although each section relates in some way to abortion, the broad sweep of each section does not cure the single subject defects in this bill. Although defendants urge that SB 642 does not constitute logrolling, we find the provisions are so unrelated that those voting on this bill were faced with a constitutionally prohibited all-or-nothing choice to ensure the passage of favorable legislation.

The unrelated sections included minor consent to seek abortions, creating new forensic protocol for statutory rape investigations, adding a new licensing and inspection scheme for abortion facilities and increasing penalties for violations of existing abortion-related regulations.

There has been a recent slew of state laws attempting to cut back on women’s access to abortion. In July the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against an Arizona law that would potentially prevent low-income women from obtaining healthcare from their provider of choice. Earlier in July in a US district judge issued a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] against a Florida law intended to cut state funding to clinics administering abortions. That same week a federal judge placed an injunction [JURIST report] on an Indiana law that would have banned women from seeking abortion procedures when they are based on race, sex, or the potential for or actual diagnosis of a disability in the fetus. Recently the US Supreme Court ruled [opinion, PDF] 5-3 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt [SCOTUSblog materials] that a Texas law [HB2 text] imposing certain requirements on abortion clinics and doctors creates an undue burden on access to abortion, and is therefore unconstitutional [JURIST report].