Oklahoma’s New Abortion Laws Challenged

Okla. abortion laws spark battles
By SEAN MURPHY
Associated Press Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY — Two new laws being challenged in the Oklahoma courts 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.
Legal challenges to the laws 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.”
Opponents of the laws say they were drafted to make a woman’s al­ready difficult decision to have an abortion even more difficult.
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.
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.

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