OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma County judge on Friday let stand a law prohibiting a common second-trimester abortion procedure.
Oklahoma County District Judge Cindy Truong’s ruling upheld House Bill 1721, dubbed the “Oklahoma Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act.”
She issued her decision from the bench.
The measure bans dilation and evacuation. Under the procedure, suction is used inside the uterus, followed by the use of forceps to remove uterine contents and then more suction until the uterus is emptied.
The case was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Tulsa Women’s Clinic, which provides abortions.
The Center for Reproductive Rights said the ruling is the first in the country to uphold a ban on the standard method of ending a pregnancy after 14 weeks.
“We cannot overstate the harm this decision will have on women in Oklahoma,” said Julie Rikelman, the center’s litigation director. “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. We will keep fighting this unconstitutional ban to make sure Oklahomans have access to the best medical treatment.”
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office defended the law.
“Dismemberment abortions are barbaric, brutal and subject unborn children to more cruelty that we allow for death row inmates,” Hunter said. “It is unconscionable to think that we would allow this practice to continue. Judge Truong is to be commended for declaring this legislation constitutional. Today is a major victory for basic human decency in Oklahoma.”
The archbishop of the Oklahoma City Catholic Diocese, the Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, and the Most Rev. David Konderla, bishop of the Tulsa Diocese, issued a joint statement in support of the ruling.
“We have an obligation to safeguard human life and this decision marks an important step in that effort. Human dignity and the right to life are fundamental principles derived from God’s creation of each individual. We must continue to find ways to respect the inherent value of the human person and to protect the precious gift of the unborn.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights said every other court that has reviewed similar bans, including in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky and Texas, has blocked them from taking effect.
Former Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, and former Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, are the authors of House Bill 1721.
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