Center for Reproductive Rights Files Lawsuit Against Oklahoma’s Ultrasound Requirement

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) has filed a lawsuit against anti-choice legislation in Oklahoma. 

From CRR’s press release:

The Center argues that the ultrasound requirement profoundly intrudes upon a patient’s privacy and is the most extreme ultrasound law in the country. The law forces a woman to hear information that she may not want to hear and that may not be relevant to her medical care. It also dangerously discounts her abilities to make healthy decisions about her own life by forcing her to hear information when she’s objected. In addition, the statute interferes with the doctor-patient relationship—potentially damaging it—by compelling doctors to deliver unwanted speech.   

“It is extremely disappointing that the Oklahoma legislature insists on passing a law that is so clearly unconstitutional and so detrimental to women in the state,” said Stephanie Toti, staff attorney in the U.S. Legal Program of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The state has already spent the last two years defending this abortion restriction and several others—without success. Another round in the courts won’t change our strong constitutional claims against the law, it will only waste more of Oklahoma taxpayers’ time and money.”

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  • crowepps

    OKLAHOMA CITY – With full control of the Oklahoma Legislature for the first time, Republicans have been flexing their political muscles, passing laws they know will face court challenges, including ones making it harder to get abortions and easier to buy guns.


    With the state more than $1 billion in the red, however, even some among their ranks wonder if they can afford such success.


    “I respect my colleagues’ right to put those issues out there, and I generally vote for most of them, if not all of them. But in these budget times, it is kind of concerning,” said Republican state Rep. Doug Cox, of Grove.


    Democratic Gov. Brad Henry vetoed a law last week that would restrict federal authorities’ ability to regulate the sale of firearms produced and kept in Oklahoma. The Justice Department is challenging a similar law in Montana, and constitutional experts say there is little chance any court would uphold the law.


    “It simply makes no sense to continue to pass unconstitutional measures that run up legal bills and waste taxpayers’ money,” Henry said after rejecting the bill. Despite its slim chances of being upheld, its Republican sponsor has vowed to override the veto.


    Lawmakers didn’t have much trouble last week overriding Henry’s veto of two bills critics have said give Oklahoma some of the strictest abortion laws in the country. One law requires women seeking abortions to undergo an intrusive method of ultrasound early in their pregnancies.


    Henry predicted the bill could lead to a “potential futile legal battle,” and already an abortion rights group has challenged the ultrasound bill’s constitutionality.


    “In addition to being constitutionally suspect, these bills are fiscally irresponsible,” said University of Oklahoma constitutional law professor Joseph Thai. “Taxpayers may not appreciate that a challenged law costs hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to litigate.”


    The number of lawsuits challenging state statutes has jumped each of the past three years — with 15 cases filed in 2007, 18 in 2008 and 24 last year. Most cases are handled by the Attorney General’s Office, which didn’t have an estimate of the number of hours it has spent defending such challenges. But the state sometimes hires outside counsel, as was the case with one lawyer who billed the state $90,000 to defend it against two lawsuits challenging other abortion laws that were ultimately overturned.


    In some cases, the number of attorney hours can easily climb into the thousands, and if the state loses, they can be forced to pay attorney fees for the other side, said Micheal Salem, an attorney who reached a “six-figure” settlement with the state last year over a challenge to an Oklahoma law on initiative petition circulators. He declined to disclose the exact amount.


    “It’s no fun to pay your own attorney, but it’s even worse to pay your opponent’s attorney,” said Salem.


    Oklahoma is among the nation’s most conservative states, and many residents support the recent Republican-backed measures. But with the state facing a $1.2 billion budget deficit, some residents have questioned whether now is the right time to be picking legal fights.


    “They’re spending millions of state dollars defending these things for someone to basically have a small headline in the newspaper, and in the long run it will mean absolutely nothing except a lawsuit,” said University of Oklahoma art professor Eric Anderson, who said he’s worried about possible furloughs at the school amid looming budget cuts. “It’s absolute demagoguery.”

    Tom Daxon, a former budget director under Republican Gov. Frank Keating and former chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, said lawmakers should only pick legal fights they think they can win. He praised lawmakers for taking a stand on important GOP issues like the federal health care bill and abortion, but he warned that fighting too many lawsuits could backfire.


    “If it’s a matter of having two or three of these challenges a year, that’s just not that significant,” Daxon said. “If we have a situation where we’re fighting constitutional battles on 20 bills, that could become a significant factor, and an especially significant factor given the budget situation.”


  • wendy-banks

    You’ve seen the signs that say “Your tax dollars at work for you”? Maybe Oklahoma should put up a sign that says “The Religious Reich spends your tax dollars making unconsitutional laws that costs Oklahoma taxpayers millions.”

    Haven’t Oklahoma’s lawmakers’ HEARD of the consitution?  Apparently not.