A 'Sweeping Anti-Abortion Law' That Doesn't Ban Abortions?

James C. McKinley Jr. reports on an Oklahoma judge striking down a "sweeping anti-abortion law" that didn't actually ban any abortions

On Tuesday, an Oklahoma state judge struck down "one of the most sweeping anti-abortion laws in the country" and inresponse yesterday, Republican state legislatorsvowed to "pass the law again in a different form,"Times reporter James C. McKinley Jr.noted in the August 20 paper.

"It almost reaches the stage of seeming cruel to me," McKinley quoted Planned Parenthood official Anita Fream regardingone of the law's provisions.

But for an "anti-abortion law," the statute in question doesn't actually ban any abortion procedure. It does, however, issue new regulations on abortion providers meant to increase the chances that more women seeking abortions may change their minds at the last minute:

A day after a judge struck down an Oklahoma law requiring women seeking an abortion to see an ultrasound of the fetus and listen to a description of its attributes, the state said it would appeal the ruling, and Republican lawmakers vowed to pass the law again in a different form.


In recent years, several states have passed laws requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion and at least three - Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi - require doctors to offer the woman the chance to see the image.

But Oklahoma's Legislature went further. The law would have required the doctor or technician to set up the ultrasound monitor where the woman could see it and then talk her through the procedure, describing the heart, limbs and internal organs.


Beyond mandating ultrasounds, the law would have allowed doctors to refuse to take part in an abortion for religious reasons, required signs in clinics saying abortions cannot be coerced and prohibited "wrongful-life lawsuits," in which a plaintiff argues that a disabled child would have been better off not being born. It also put restrictions on the morning-after pill.