Judge Delays Oklahoma Plan to Post Abortion Details Online

By Sappenfield, Mark | The Christian Science Monitor, December 19, 2009 | Go to article overview
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Judge Delays Oklahoma Plan to Post Abortion Details Online

Sappenfield, Mark, The Christian Science Monitor

An Oklahoma law would require women having an abortion to fill out an anonymous questionnaire, the results of which would be made public. A legal challenge to the law will be decided Feb. 19, a judge said Friday.

An Oklahoma judge Friday put off until Feb. 19 any decision about an anti-abortion law that critics have said is "like undressing a woman in public."

The law, which was to have gone into effect on Nov. 1, requires doctors performing abortions to ask the patient 37 questions - from her age to her marital status and financial condition - which would then be posted on a public website.

Supporters of the bill say the information is crucial to understanding why women have abortions. Opponents say the questions are invasive and the public posting of the answers could easily lead to women being identified in rural parts of the state, even though their names are not used.

Lora Joyce Davis, one of the women bringing the lawsuit, told ABC: "It's like undressing women in public, exposing their most personal issues on the Internet."

Oklahoma's aims

The Oklahoma Legislature is quickly becoming one of the most stringently antiabortion statehouses in America. Indeed, some experts suggest it is becoming a laboratory for potential federal antiabortion law, drawing a comparison between Oklahoma's new laws and the Nebraska partial-birth abortion ban that was struck down by the Supreme Court before being made federal law by Congress.

"Expect these Oklahoma laws and the ensuing court decisions to be the first rather than last word on how far a state may go with respect to compulsory procedures and reporting requirements," Joseph Thai, a professor at the University of Oklahoma, told AP.

Many states have abortion-reporting requirements, but abortion providers in Oklahoma say the new law in their state goes further than any other, according to NPR. It is only the most recent example of the Oklahoma Legislature taking a prevalent practice and pushing it to new levels.

Ultrasound as anti-abortion tool

The Oklahoma courts are also considering a law that would require all women having an abortion to submit to an ultrasound in which the doctor would discuss in detail the development of the fetus.

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Judge Delays Oklahoma Plan to Post Abortion Details Online


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