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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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at form goes in their medical chart.

"It’s like they don’t think women have given serious thought and consideration before they walk through our doors,” Meek said.

Strictest in country
An existing law requires women to receive counseling and wait 24 hours before having an abortion. In Oklahoma, there are three clinics licensed by the state Health Department to perform abortions.

Two of the three clinics are challenging the new ultrasound law.

In 2009, 6,974 abortions were performed in Oklahoma, according to preliminary figures from the Health Department. That’s an increase of 850 from the 2008 figures.

Proponents of the new law say its aim is to make sure women have "full and complete information prior to the irrevocable act of abortion of an unborn child,” said Tony Lauinger, chairman of Oklahomans for Life.

Oklahoma’s ultrasound law is the nation’s strictest abortion ultrasound law, said Stephanie Toti, attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is challenging it.

At least a dozen other states have abortion ultrasound laws, but none of the laws mandate that a woman must be shown the image like Oklahoma’s law, said Toti, who is also representing the clinics in the legal challenge.

"It’s very difficult to force them to do it,” Toti said.

"The law says they have to place the image in the patient’s view. It’s humiliation for the patient to have to cover her eyes. The physician has to describe what is being shown. It’s really destructive to the physician-patient relationship, when they have to show you an image you don’t want to see and describe the image even though you’ve told them you don’t want to hear it.

"That kind of disregard for a patient’s choices violates principles of medical ethics.”