Hearing set on Oklahoma abortion lawsuit

BY JULIE BISBEE Modified: April 29, 2010 at 6:29 am •  Published: April 29, 2010
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Women became emotional and some cried after being shown fetal ultrasound images at a Tulsa abortion clinic Wednesday, a day after Oklahoma enacted what has been called the nation’s most restrictive abortion law.

None of the women, however, decided against terminating their pregnancies, said Linda Meek, the executive director of Reproductive Services in Tulsa.

Lawmakers on Tuesday overrode Gov. Brad Henry’s veto of a bill to require all women terminating a pregnancy to undergo a fetal ultrasound image an hour before an abortion is performed.

A New York reproductive rights group has filed a lawsuit challenging the law and asking a judge to halt enforcement of the law until the litigation is resolved.

A hearing in the case is set for Monday in an Oklahoma County District Court.

At the Tulsa clinic, which also offers birth control services and has an adoption agency on site, employees began complying with the new law Tuesday. Doctors who don’t comply with the law could face fines up to $100,000 or prosecution.

"We weren’t sure when they would vote, and we were pretty sure it would go through. We complied all day yesterday,” Meek said.

Ultrasounds are performed on women seeking abortions at the Tulsa clinic, Meek said.

The imaging is used to determine the gestational age of a fetus and to make sure the woman does not have a tubal pregnancy.

The law allows women to avert their eyes.

At the clinic, the image was placed in the woman’s line of sight and she is given a description of the fetal development to include presence of organs, limbs and cardiac function.

Some women closed their eyes and turned their heads away, Meek said.

"The doctors are just telling them this is a new law that we have to give them a detailed description, and we apologize for that,” she said.

The staff is required to record the time, and the women must sign a certificate that says they were properly shown the image.



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