new Oklahoma survey law challenged

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-18-2009
new Oklahoma survey law challenged
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Tue, 10-27-2009 - 5:50pm

Strict Oklahoma abortion laws spark court battles

By SEAN MURPHY (AP) – 3 days ago

OKLAHOMA CITY — Abortion rights supporters have challenged two new Oklahoma laws that would give the state some of the strictest abortion laws in the country by forcing women to answer questions about race and their relationships, and to listen to a doctor talk them through an ultrasound.

Opponents of the laws say they were drafted to make a woman's already difficult decision to have an abortion even more difficult. But supporters say the surveys will prove valuable to understanding why women seek abortions, and that women need to be provided with as much knowledge as possible before making an irrevocable decision.

"Do they feel they have no other choice? Is it financial? What are the reasons that lead up to that very desperate choice of a woman?" said Republican state Rep. Pam Peterson, who played a key role in drafting both laws.

The legal challenges are in their early stages, but observers say the trajectory of cases could mirror that of the partial-birth abortion debate, which went through Nebraska courts and was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court before Congress made it a federal law that was upheld in 2007.

"That's an apt comparison," said Joseph Thai, a professor at the University of Oklahoma who specializes in constitutional law and the Supreme Court. "So, 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."

Anita Fream, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma said the decision of whether or not to have an abortion is never taken lightly.

"To turn around and, once you've made this decision, find out the legislators have imposed these additional restrictions, it's really quite problematic. It often makes a difficult decision even more painful," Fream said.

One law would require women to fill out a lengthy survey that asks, among other things, about their race, education and reason for seeking an abortion. It asks women whether they're having relationship problems, whether they can't afford to raise a child or whether having a baby would dramatically change their lives.

Another section requires doctors to provide detailed information about complications that arise as a result of the procedure. The Health Department ultimately would compile the information into a statistical report and post it on its Web site.

"It is particularly Draconian, abusive, intimidating," said former Democratic state Rep. Wanda Jo Stapleton, a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the reporting requirements. "Those are totally intimidating, totally personal questions, and it's nobody's business."

Republican state Rep. Dan Sullivan, who helped draft the questionnaire bill, said lawmakers are simply seeking as much information as possible to help them find ways to reduce the number of abortions in Oklahoma.

"These are tragic situations for people, and we're not trying to compound anyone's emotional state," said Sullivan, of Tulsa.

He said the identities of the women who filled out the questionnaires would be kept private, because the forms don't ask for personally identifiable information and the Health Department has been directed to ensure personal information doesn't make it onto the Web site.

Opponents of the laws, including the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, have sued to stop them from taking effect, arguing that both were rolled into larger bills, violating a state constitutional provision requiring bills pertain to a single subject. A district court judge issued a temporary order this week preventing the questionnaire law from taking effect.

Another district court judge overturned the other law, which would require women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound and to have a doctor talk them through what they're seeing. The law would require a doctor to use a vaginal transducer in the earliest stages of pregnancy, since that provides the clearest image when the fetus is small. The method is more invasive than the abdominal ultrasounds most pregnant women undergo.

The state has appealed that decision to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. In the meantime, lawmakers who backed the abortion laws have said they'd likely resubmit them as separate measures during the next legislative session.

While most states have abortion reporting requirements, Oklahoma's laws in both areas are the most far-reaching in the nation, said Elizabeth Nash, a public policy analyst with the New York-based Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights group focused on sexual and reproductive health research.

Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi require ultrasounds in all abortion cases, and Arizona and Florida require them after the first trimester. But no other states require doctors to describe the image to women and mandate that a vaginal ultrasound be used in certain cases, Nash said.

Tony Lauinger, chairman of the anti-abortion group Oklahomans for Life, said the ultrasound law helps ensure women are fully aware of how developed the fetus is.

According to the state Department of Health, the number of annual abortions performed in Oklahoma has stayed relatively steady in recent years, with 6,322 in 2005, 6,595 in 2006 and 6,319 in 2007, the most recent year for which data was available.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iPIrwf4Yqy-oC7em4W1E6JFhiz2gD9BHB8804

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-20-2009
Tue, 10-27-2009 - 10:50pm
I hope they win. These laws are absurd and nothing more than a scare tactic. If it were me, I would lie my behind off on the survey and I would close my eyes and listen to my MP3 player during the ultrasounds.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2006
Wed, 10-28-2009 - 2:05pm

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This part just seems absolutely absurd to me.

2010 Siggy
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Wed, 10-28-2009 - 2:14pm
OK- so my question is this: WHO is paying for the ultrasound? I have a 10 THOUSAND dollar per year deductible. I'll be plum-effed if I am going to fork over extra money for an unnecessary test before I abort. I knew the stages of development from conception onward before my 1st miscarriage ever occurred- I do NOT need the patronizing, controlling idea behind this, nor will I accept the added expense, NOR any unknown risks of an unnecessary ultrasound. I think these lawmakers need a wand stuck up their rectums.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-20-2009
Wed, 10-28-2009 - 3:02pm
I didn't even catch that part! That's disgusting!
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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-18-2009
Wed, 10-28-2009 - 4:41pm

It gets even worse:

"The law goes so far as to specify the doctor's script: The physician must describe the heartbeat and the presence of internal organs, fingers, and toes. The patient then has to certify in writing that the doctor or technician duly did all of this before the abortion."

"During a vaginal ultrasound, a cylindrically shaped transducer is pushed inside the vagina, an experience that could be traumatic for some women, particularly if they don’t want the procedure or are pregnant through rape or incest."

"The law makes no allowance for women who find the idea of having a foreign object shoved inside them objectionable. Any woman who wants the abortion would therefore have to spread her legs and submit to this state-mandated violation of her body — at best an uncomfortable inconvenience at worst state-sponsored rape with a foreign object."

Re: the survey being posted online:

"It could also result in harassment and violence against these women. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that anti-abortion crusaders have taken private information on women who enter abortion clinics and then called those women at home, even threatening them. What’s to prevent some anti-abortion lunatic from putting the pieces together and murdering these women?"

http://www.boulderweekly.com/blog-14-oklahoma-law-violates-privacy-and-womens-bodies.html

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2006
Wed, 10-28-2009 - 4:45pm

Unbelievable.

2010 Siggy
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-07-2008
Wed, 10-28-2009 - 5:22pm
Glad to see it being challenged. I don't imagine it'd ever get through anyway, but ya never know...
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-06-2009
Thu, 10-29-2009 - 5:45am

I really hope this horrifying law doesn't pass, but if it does this might be a workaround:



Assuming the dr thinks the same of this law as I do...


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2009
Thu, 10-29-2009 - 11:36am

bingo - It is designed to raise the cost of the procedure to price women out of it - who aren't intimidated by the online scarlet letter that's being forced on them.

Mississippi put arbitrary delays in place to deter women - and then crowed about the reduced number of abortions that resulted. The actual data showed that clinics in the neighboring states without this obstacle got increased numbers of MS residents, and the average gestational age of abortions in MS rose, because of the women that couldn't go out of state, and had to raise more money to pay for the extra day lost from work, and the hotel bill.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2009
Thu, 10-29-2009 - 11:42am

<<>>

There will be PL orgs putting pregnant women in those clinics to test whether or not the Dr will stick to the legal restrictions.

Abortion providers especially have to dot all the "i"s and cross all the "t"s, because there are are under a PL microscope - even if what they do is for humane reasons and is perfectly medically allowable.

These legislators are the same crackpots that say Health Care Reform is bad because it will "insert a bureaucrat between you and your physician" - which is apparently OK as long as THEY are the bureaucrat, and they are the ones determining what gets put in your vajayjay.

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