Oct 4 Oklahoma's highest court on Tuesday struck
down a law imposing restrictions on abortion providers,
including a requirement that they take samples of fetal tissue
from patients younger than 14 and preserve them for state
The law also set new criminal penalties for providers found
to have violated abortion-related statutes as well as for anyone
found to have helped a minor evade the requirement to obtain
parental consent. In addition, the bill created a new, stricter
inspection and licensing system for abortion clinics.
Legislators had said the fetal tissue section was aimed at
capturing child rapists and that the law would protect women's
health. But the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights,
which challenged the law in court, said it unfairly targeted
doctors and facilities that perform abortions.
In a unanimous opinion, the nine-member Oklahoma Supreme
Court found the law violated the state constitution's
requirement that each legislative bill must address only "one
subject." The rule, the court said, is designed to prevent
legislators from including provisions that would not normally
pass in otherwise popular bills.
The state unsuccessfully asserted that each part of the law
addressed a single subject: women's reproductive health.
"We reject defendants' arguments and find this legislation
violates the single subject rule as each of these sections is so
unrelated and misleading that a legislator voting on this matter
could have been left with an unpalatable all-or-nothing choice,"
Justice Joseph Watt wrote for the court.
In a concurring opinion, four of the judges said they also
would have struck down the law as an unconstitutional burden on
a woman's right to have an abortion.
The state attorney general's office, which defended the law
in court, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northup said
in a statement: "This law was nothing but a cynical attack on
women's health and rights by unjustly targeting their trusted
health care providers."
The law was passed in 2015, but the court had put it on hold
while it considered the challenge.
Oklahoma's Republican-dominated government has been at the
forefront of socially conservative states that have enacted
abortion restrictions in recent years, most of which have been
challenged in court.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas law
imposing strict regulations on doctors and facilities that
perform abortions. A similar law is on hold in Oklahoma while
the state Supreme Court considers its legality.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)