Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The silver lining on Oklahoma and abortion

by Jordan Kisner

I am happy to pass along the news that the Oklahoma law that would mandate the public sharing of intimate details of abortion procedures will not be taking effect this coming Sunday. The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a restraining order against the law on behalf of two women, and succeeded in getting enforcement delayed until December 4th.

For those readers who have not yet heard of the controversy in Oklahoma, the law in question would require that doctors post personal information about women who have abortions online, details that include the date of procedure, reason for procedure, county in which the procedure took place, race, age and education level of the mother, and number of previous births or abortions. Opponents of the law contend that name and address would not be posted, the required information would be enough to identify women living in small towns. Doctors would also have to report specific details about the procedure, including whether or not the fetus was given an anesthetic, whether or not it survived and for how long. After this law takes effect, any doctor who fails to post this information online would lose their medical license and face criminal sanctions.

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), in conjunction with former state representative Wanda Jo Stapleton (D, Oklahoma City) and Oklahoma resident Lora Joyce Davis, has filed a suit against the law, claiming it violates the Oklahoma Constitution. In the meantime, Judge Twyla Mason Gray ignored the temporary restraining order and granted the state’s request to move the TRO hearing until December 4th, which would make the law active for over a month before a restraining order could take effect. In response to protests by the CRR, Gray agreed to stay the law until the hearing, thank goodness, but set the bond for the restraining order (which, in Oklahoma, must be posted by the party requesting the order) at a whopping $25,000. That’s right, in order to get the law stayed for the month before the hearing, the nonprofit and two women have to come up with $25,000.

This is an unbelievable travesty, a state-imposed threat to the safety and well being of Oklahoma women. But at least the CRR has bought a month of time. They are accepting donations on their website to help them pay the $25,000, and I urge anyone with the means and inclination to send a few extra dollars their way.

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