Oklahoma Enacts Tough Abortion Laws Requiring Ultrasounds

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Agence France-Presse

Oklahoma Enacts Tough Abortion Laws Requiring Ultrasounds

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Oklahoma is enacting tough abortion laws. The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of the ultrasound law, which it said "profoundly intrudes upon a patient's privacy." (AFP)

CHICAGO — Oklahoma lawmakers overrode their governor's veto Tuesday
to enact tough abortion laws that force women to undergo invasive
ultrasounds and allow doctors to withhold test results showing fetal
defects.

Even women who are victims of rape or incest will be
required to listen to a detailed description of the fetus and view the
ultrasound image prior to terminating a pregnancy.

They will also
likely be required to undergo vaginal rather than abdominal ultrasounds
as doctors are required to use the method that "would display the
embryo or fetus more clearly."

The second bill shields doctors
from "wrongful birth" malpractice lawsuits brought by parents who would
have aborted a fetus had they been informed about its genetic or other
defects.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit
Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of the ultrasound law, which
it said "profoundly intrudes upon a patient's privacy."

A similar Oklahoma law was struck down last year.

"Politicians
have no business making medical decisions," said Stephanie Toti, a
staff attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights.

"Another
round in the courts won't change our strong constitutional claims
against the law, it will only waste more of Oklahoma taxpayers' time
and money."

Democratic Governor Brad Henry tried to block the
bills last week, but the Republican-dominated Oklahoma legislature
overwhelmingly overrode his veto with the help of Democrats.

Henry
said that while he supports "reasonable" restrictions on abortions, the
laws had serious constitutional flaws and represented an excessive
intrusion of government into the private lives of its citizens.

"It
is unconscionable to grant a physician legal protection to mislead or
misinform a pregnant woman in an effort to impose his or her personal
beliefs on his patient," the governor said in his veto message.

"State
policymakers should never mandate that a citizen be forced to undergo
any medical procedure against his or her will, especially when such a
procedure could cause physical or mental trauma," he added.

Abortion foes hailed the veto overrides as a victory for the unborn.

"Ultrasound
gives a mother a window to her womb," Mary Spaulding Balch, director of
state legislation for the National Right to Life, said in a statement.

"It
helps to prevent her from making a decision she may regret for the rest
of her life and it empowers her with the most accurate information
about her pregnancy so that she can make a truly informed 'choice.'"

In
the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case, the Supreme Court ruled that states
could not prohibit access to abortions prior to fetal viability --
which is generally seen to be somewhere around 24 weeks -- or when the
pregnancy threatens the woman's health.

However, the court has
upheld a number of state laws that essentially restrict access such as
requiring parental notification when minors seek abortion or imposing
strict and costly regulations on providers.

 

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