Judge rules Oklahoma abortion law can take effect

AP News
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Posted: Oct 24, 2014 7:15 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A new Oklahoma law that requires clinics to have a physician with admitting privileges at a nearby hospital present when abortions are performed can become law on Nov. 1, a judge ruled Friday.

Oklahoma County District Judge Bill Graves ruled against a legal challenge on behalf of a Norman clinic that performs 44 percent of abortions in the state.

Attorneys for Dr. Larry Burns say the law could force him to shut down his practice, which is one of only three abortion clinics in Oklahoma. They say he's applied for admitting privileges at 16 hospitals without success.

But Graves, a former Republican legislator, wrote that Burns was not timely in his attempts to seek admitting privileges. He denied the plaintiff's request for a temporary injunction that would have put the law on hold.

"If he has not heard back from all the places to which he applied, it is his own fault and there is no violation of due process," Graves wrote.

Similar laws have been passed in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, whose attorneys represent the plaintiffs, said the law "would put Oklahoma among the ranks of several states in the region that have endangered women's health and safety by eliminating critical services for those who have made the decision to end a pregnancy."

Graves also wrote that the plaintiffs failed to show they were likely to succeed on the merits of the case.

Burns' attorneys say the plan to appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Attorneys for the state argued the measure is constitutional and that the Legislature has a valid interest in helping women who experience complications during an abortion. The law was approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature this spring and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin.

In a separate challenge earlier this week, an Oklahoma County judge ruled that most of another new law that restricts the use of abortion-inducing drugs can go into effect on Nov. 1. That suit was filed on behalf of a Tulsa clinic.

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