Judge to Rule on Oklahoma Abortion Reporting Law

An Oklahoma judge will rule today on a state law requiring online publication of detailed records for women undergoing abortions performed in the state. The law would require doctors to fill out a 10-page questionnaire about the circumstances of the abortion, and the survey would be posted online with the woman’s name omitted.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the lawsuit in October on behalf of Wanda Stapleton, a former Oklahoma state representative, and Lora Joyce Davis, a resident of Shawnee, Oklahoma. The suit alleges that the new law violates the state constitution by covering more than one topic and that it will cause unnecessary spending of taxpayer dollars. The Center for Reproductive Rights won a similar lawsuit in Oklahoma in August. Oklahoma state senator Todd Lamb, the sponsor of the law and a candidate for state lieutenant governor, explained to CNN that he believes the law will enable the state to gather better statistics on abortion.

Abortion rights advocates say the law is unnecessary and invasive. Caitlyn Wright, a University of Oklahoma student, told NPR that the law invades women’s privacy. “The only question that’s not asked of these women is their name,” Wright said. “These are incredibly invasive questions. Is it because she can’t afford child care? Is she unmarried? Is she having a rough patch with [the] father? The real purpose of the bill is to shame women from having this procedure — and I think it’s to scare them.”

Pro-choice activists also assert that there are better ways of reducing the abortion rate in Oklahoma. “If they want to reduce the number of abortions, then they need to concentrate on educating women about preventing unwanted pregnancies, educating them about emergency contraception, birth control — and making birth control more accessible,” said Linda Meek the executive administrator of Reproductive Services, based in Tulsa.


CNN 12/18/09; NPR 12/17/09; Feminist Newswire 10/21/09

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