New Abortion Law Challenged in Oklahoma

     (CN) – Two Oklahoma women are challenging a new state law set to take effect next month that requires publication of an “Annual Abortion Report” and forces doctors to give details about their patients under threat of criminal sanctions and loss of their medical license, according to a suit in Oklahoma County Court.

     The Oklahoma law, H.B. 1595, also changed definitions of abortion terms, used terms already thrown out by a court and barred certain procedures for the first time, according to the filing.
     H.B. 1595 changed several statutory definitions, banned abortions sought “solely on account of the sex of the unborn child,” imposed new reporting requirements on physicians who administer abortions or treat patients for complications of abortions, and created new, and expensive, responsibilities, including enforcement of state laws on abortions and gathering and reporting of statistics on abortions, state agencies and medical boards. The law will take effect Nov. 1.
     According to the complaint, the bill employs the undefined term “certified technician” by referring to a previous law, Senate Bill 1878, of the 2008 session, which was “invalidated by the District Court of Oklahoma County without ever going into effect.”
     H.B. 1595 redefined the terms “unemancipated minor” and “attempt to perform an abortion,” and applied them in the section that bans “sex-selective abortions,” according to the complaint. It adds that the definitions of those terms in one section of the Act are different from the definitions applied to other sections of it.
     The bill requires the state Health Department to create and publish an “‘Annual Abortion Report,’ based on the extensive abortion-related data to be provided by physicians to the Health Department, and an ‘Annual Judicial Bypass of Abortion Parental Consent Summary Report,'” among other things.
     The plaintiffs say the bill will require “an unlawful expenditure of public funds,” to the tune of more than $250,000 a year. Defendants include Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, Health Commissioner Terry Cline, and the directors of the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision and State Board of Osteopathic Examiners. Gov. Brad Henry signed the bill into law on May 21.
     A group called “Pro-Choice of Oklahoma” claims that the reporting requirements of HB 1595 are so extensive that the reports could reveal the names of physicians and patients who perform or receive abortions in small towns.
     The plaintiffs say the bill violates the state constitution. They want it enjoined. Their lead counsel is Anne Zachritz with Andrews Davis.

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