Oklahoma's 2008 abortion law violates a constitutional provision
prohibiting multiple-subject legislation, Oklahoma County District
Judge Vicki Robertson held Tuesday.
Robertson granted a partial summary judgment in favor of the
challenger of the law, Nova Health Systems, which operates
Reproductive Services of Tulsa. Stating that the law is "void and of
no effect," the judge also granted a permanent injunction against
Gov. Brad Henry vetoed the legislation, which he said made no
exceptions for victims of rape and incest, but lawmakers overrode
Special Assistant Attorney General Teresa Collett said she would
need to consult with her clients, who include several state
officials, before deciding whether to appeal Robertson's decision to
the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
"It defies common sense that the state cannot protect women's
health with these measures," Collett said.
Attorney Stephanie Toti, with the Center for Reproductive Rights
in New York, spoke for the plaintiffs.
"We knew from the beginning that the law violated the Oklahoma
Constitution," Toti said.
Toti said her clients hope that after Robertson's ruling the
Legislature will "recognize the rights of women under the
constitution and will strongly consider the other constitutional
claims that we've raised here, and will think twice before enacting
some of these provisions again."
She indicated that if lawmakers pass another such law, it also
will be challenged.
One part of the law requires a woman seeking an abortion to
undergo an ultrasound within an hour of the procedure and to have
its findings explained. Having declared the law unconstitutional on
other grounds, Robertson did not rule on that provision.
"The ultrasound provision takes away a patient's choice about
whether or not to do an ultrasound," Toti said. "It requires
physicians to provide information to their patients that the
physicians do not believe is medically necessary. So it's an affront
to women's autonomy and decision-making power. It's also an
intrusion into the physician-patient relationship."
Although the ruling addresses only Oklahoma law, Toti said the
center hopes it "will send a signal to other state legislatures,
that if they violate their constitution, if they enact laws that
trample on women's rights, those laws will not be sustained."
Toti said she is not disappointed that Robertson ruled on only
the single-subject violation. …