Okla. Pro-Life Laws Face Legal Challenges

An abortion law in Oklahoma that would require women seeking abortions to disclose such information as their relationship with the baby's father and the reason for the abortion has been put on hold.

Oklahoma County District Court Judge Twyla Mason Gray issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of the new law, which was slated to take effect on Nov. 1.

Abortion advocates have challenged the law, saying it violates privacy protections.

"It is particularly Draconian, abusive, intimidating," said former Democratic state Rep. Wanda Jo Stapleton, who filed a lawsuit challenging the reporting requirements, as reported by The Associated Press. "Those are totally intimidating, totally personal questions, and it's nobody's business."

The Statistical Reporting of Abortions Act requires pregnant women to answer questions on their race and education, whether they're having relationship problems, and whether they can't afford to raise a child, among others. Doctors are also required to report any complications that develop in the course of the procedure. Those responses are then sent to the Oklahoma State Department of Health

The measure, which was sponsored by two pro-life Republican lawmakers, state Senator Todd Lamb and Rep. Dan Sullivan, also bans abortion based on gender selection and/or preference.

"This is a simple bill that will protect the life of the unborn," said Sullivan. "The reporting will allow us to know exactly how many abortions are being performed in Oklahoma and why they are occurring so we can possibly adjust policy to further reduce the number of abortions in our state."

Jennifer Mondino, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, described the measure as a "cheap legislative trick" that's unconstitutional.

"These 'bundled abortion restrictions' have nothing to do with protecting the people of Oklahoma and everything to do with lawmakers who have political agendas trying to make it harder for women to get abortions and harder for doctors to provide them," Mondino argued.

But pro-life advocates say opponents of the legislation have persistently misrepresented the Oklahoma law.

Tony Lauinger, state chairman of Oklahomans For Life, told LifeSiteNews that abortion advocates and the media are misleading the public.

He rejected the widespread claim that reports about a woman's abortion and her personal information will be posted on the Web. He also pointed out that the new law eliminates the current law's requirement that women disclose their residential information.

The new measure, Lauinger contended to LifeSiteNews, actually protects a woman's privacy more than the current state law.

Under the reporting law, information collected is sent to the Department of Health which then produces an annual statistical analysis of the demographic information. Individual abortion reports will not be published.

"It is hoped that the information gathered will make it possible in the future to address some of the underlying societal problems, such as absence of child support or lack of childcare, which lead some women to seek abortions." Lauinger told LifeSiteNews, noting that the ultimate goal is to reduce abortions.

The Health Department has been directed to ensure personal information does not go public, Sullivan said.

Another state law that required women seeking an abortion to receive an ultrasound and a doctor's description of the fetus is also in court.