Abortion rights group seek to halt Oklahoma law that targets clinics

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 25, 2015 4:35 PM

By Heide Brandes

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - Oklahoma's Center for Reproductive Rights on Friday asked the state Supreme Court to stop a law the group's lawyers say unfairly targets physicians and medical facilities that provide abortions.

The law goes into effect Nov. 1 and lawyers for the group say it mainly sets an array of rules against providing abortions to minors and includes unconstitutional provisions that permit searches without a warrant of abortion providers.

The law mandates that when a minor under age 14 undergoes an abortion, tissue from the fetus be preserved for investigation by state authorities. It also sets out a series of measures for which the state can revoke the license of an abortion provider.

"This case affects the people of Oklahoma and the community at large because whether the act is enforced will impact the ability of physicians and clinics to provide, and women to receive, safe and legal abortion care in the state of Oklahoma,” the lawsuit said.

"The attorney general's Office will review the lawsuit and will respond to the claims appropriately," said Aaron Cooper, a spokesman for the office.

Republican-dominated Oklahoma has been at the forefront of socially conservative states that have enacted restrictions on abortion providers, with almost all facing legal challenges from women's health providers, who have recently had a series of victories.

In August, an Oklahoma judge struck down on a state law aimed at limiting the use of abortion-inducing drugs, saying the measure was unconstitutional because it did not apply to other medication.

In November, the Oklahoma Supreme Court halted the implementation of new abortion restrictions that supporters said are aimed at protecting women's health and critics said are really measures designed to shutter clinics.

One of the regulations approved in Oklahoma, as well as in other states, requires physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at an adequately equipped hospital within 30 miles of where the abortion is performed.

Abortion rights groups have said the requirement is unnecessary because abortion complications are rare and usually similar to those of a miscarriage, which can be treated by emergency room physicians. Backers of the restrictions have said the rules help protect continuity of care.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Trott)