OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) - An Oklahoma judge on Friday upheld a controversial law banning a second-trimester procedure that pro-abortion rights advocates say is the safest and most common method form of abortion after about 14 weeks of pregnancy.
Oklahoma County District Judge Cindy Truong ruled from the bench in favor of House Bill 1721, known as the Oklahoma Unborn Child Protection for Dismemberment Abortion Act of 2015. It bans the dilation and evacuation procedure that alternates the use of suction and forceps to remove the contents of a woman's uterus until empty.
The lawsuit challenging the ban was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of the Tulsa's Women's Clinic. The judge's ruling denies the pro-abortion rights group's request to invalidate the law, which has been temporarily enjoined for the past four years.
The group’s litigation director, Julie Rikelman, blasted the decision in a statement.
“We cannot overstate the harm this decision will have on women in Oklahoma,” she said. “Politicians should never take medical options off the table for pregnant patients. This law bans care that women need and doctors recommend and is part of a national strategy by anti-abortion politicians to push abortion care out of reach by passing hundreds of laws that limit access.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights says courts have previously blocked every similar ban, including those from Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky and Texas.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has publicly opposed such bans, stating in 2015 that they "represent legislative interference at its worst" and doctors will be forced "by ill-advised, unscientifically motivated policy, to provide lesser care to patents."
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, a Republican, cheered the court's ruling, stating the law "bans the gruesome practice of dismembering unborn children while they are still alive in the womb" of a mother. He contends the procedure subjects “unborn children to more cruelty than we allow for death row inmates."
“It is unconscionable to think that we would allow this practice to continue," he said in a statement. "Judge Truong is to be commended for declaring this legislation constitutional. Today is a major victory for basic human decency in Oklahoma.”
Hunter described the procedure as a fetus being torn apart "limb by limb, until it bleeds to death, and the remains are extracted from the womb."
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