Judge to hear abortion arguments
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Saturday, August 08, 2009
8/08/09 at 4:28 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma County judge will hear oral arguments Tuesday in a legal challenge to a 2008 state law that requires a woman to undergo an ultrasound an hour before an abortion.
Both sides are asking the judge to decide the case without a jury trial.
In October, Nova Health Systems, the parent group of Reproductive Services in Tulsa, filed suit against the law. It is being represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York City.
Enforcement of the law was temporarily blocked in October. It was set to take effect Nov. 1. In March, the injunction was extended until the case is settled.
Both sides are optimistic about their chances of prevailing.
The law requires a physician to describe the images from an ultrasound to a woman seeking an abortion.
"It is both an affront to the woman's decision-making power and to her dignity," said Stephanie Toti, an attorney representing Reproductive Services.
"It is a violation of the doctor's free-speech right. It is also an inappropriate intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship."
But Teresa Collett, special assistant attorney general who is defending the law, said none of the clinic's claims has merit.
Collett said a jury trial is unlikely because the facts are not in dispute. Both sides are seeking what is called a summary judgment, which is an order based on undisputed facts that resolves a case based on the law.
Toti said the 2008 law and another law passed this year, requiring women obtaining abortions to report specific information about themselves and their circumstances, make it more difficult for women to obtain an abortion.
In addition, the two measures also make it more difficult for doctors who perform abortions, she said.
Barbara Hoberock (405) 528-2465