Abortion law will remain on hold
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
7/20/10 at 5:22 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY — A controversial abortion law will remain on hold pending the outcome of a legal challenge.
Oklahoma County District Judge Noma Gurich on Monday issued a temporary injunction banning the enforcement of a law requiring women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound within an hour before the procedure and have its findings explained to her.
Both parties had previously agreed to a temporary restraining order to bar immediate implementation of the law. Gurich's action Monday continues the hold placed on the law.
Reproductive Services in Tulsa and Dr. Larry A. Burns, who practices in Norman, sued the state following the Legislature's override of Gov. Brad Henry's veto of House Bill 2780.
The veto was overridden in late April, making the measure effective immediately. The initial hold was placed on the law in early May.
Gurich on Monday made the ruling in a courtroom packed with women and men wearing pink, many of whom are affiliated with the recently formed Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice.
"People are finally fed up with abusive legislation," said Coalition President Martha Skeeters of Norman. "Government is out of control."
She said the legislation is a waste of money.
People should ask their lawmakers how they voted on House Bill 2780, Skeeters said.
Tulsan Tony Lauinger, Oklahomans for Life chairman, said he was disappointed in the ruling, adding that the law would provide information to women who badly need it. He called it "good public policy."
He said the measure would provide women with much needed information before they took the "lethal and irrevocable step of aborting an unborn child."
Gurich set a Jan. 21 pretrial conference date.
Stephanie Toti, a staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York, said the measure violates the free speech rights of doctors. The Center filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs.
It violates patients' rights because it forces women to listen to a government message intended to manipulate and humiliate her, Toti said.
Teresa Collett, a special assistant attorney general, said the measure simply requires doctors to share truthful and relevant information.
A court tossed out a similar law recently because it included several other measures in violation of the one-subject rule. The rule requires that measures deal with one subject.
The state has spent $15,000 under a contract defending the ultrasound law, said Charlie Price, a spokesman for Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson.
It spent an additional $75,000 defending another law that was found unconstitutional. That fee was also contract based, Price said.
Barbara Hoberock (405) 528-2465