Oklahoma House approves bill allowing lawsuits over abortions

The measure would allow civil action to be filed against abortion providers who fail to follow the informed consent provisions of Oklahoma law related to abortions.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: May 3, 2012
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“That's probably going to cause abortion clinics to have better insurance,” Wesselhoft said. “If I was an abortionist, I would videotape everything I said to the young girl in order to protect me.”

Wesselhoft said he is hoping the measure, if signed into law, would result in fewer abortions being performed in Oklahoma.

Ryan Kiesel, a former Democratic state lawmaker who is executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, said the purpose of the bill is to intimidate abortion providers.

“There seems to be no other reason for singling them out for special treatment in our malpractice laws,” he said. “Any doctor, whether they're an abortion provider or otherwise, ought to be held responsible for their professional negligence.

“It seems odd to me that the Legislature, which has worked for years and years trying to limit liability for negligent physicians have gone out of their way in this bill to make it easier to file lawsuits against doctors that provide reproductive health care services,” Kiesel said.

Wesselhoft said HB 2561 received little notice because of all the attention given to personhood legislation this year.

A proposed personhood bill stated that life begins at conception; backers said it was a statement that Oklahomans value life but opponents said it could have led to restrictions on abortions, birth control, in vitro fertilization and stem cell research. The measure died when it didn't get a hearing in the House.

“This bill has teeth,” Wesselhoft said. “The personhood bill sent a strong moral message.”