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11:06 am
Mon July 19, 2010

Abortion Ruling

Oklahoma City, OK – OKLAHOMA CITY -- An Oklahoma judge granted an injunction Monday blocking enforcement of a state law that would require women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus.

Oklahoma County District Judge Noma Gurich set a pretrial hearing for Jan. 21 and directed that the state not enforce the law, which was passed by legislators during their 2010 session. A temporary restraining order against the law had been in effect since May.

The Center for Reproductive Rights in New York sued to have the law declared unconstitutional, arguing in court filings that women could be forced to hear information that might not be relevant to their medical care. The abortion rights group also argued that ordering a discussion over the fetus' dimensions and whether a heartbeat, limbs and organs are present violated the doctor-patient relationship.

In its 2010 session, Oklahoma legislators passed eight laws to restrict abortions. Gov. Brad Henry signed four and vetoed four -- but the Legislature overrode three. The remaining veto that stood would have restricted insurance companies from providing coverage for elective abortions.

Some of the abortion bills passed in 2010 had been included in 2008 and 2009 laws struck down on a technicality in separate court cases: they violated a state requirement that bills deal with only one subject. Legislators unbundled them with the hope of having them pass a court challenge.

Henry said the bills he vetoed, including the ultrasound bill, were likely unconstitutional and would be knocked down by courts.

National abortion rights groups said the ultrasound law is the strictest such requirement in the country.

Stephanie Toti, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the group would likely challenge other Oklahoma abortion laws, including one that requires women and abortion doctors to complete a lengthy