Oklahoma Gov. Considers Tough New Abortion Bills

Tuesday, 20 Apr 2010 08:59 PM


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CHICAGO – The governor of Oklahoma was considering tough new abortion bills Tuesday that would allow doctors to withhold test results showing fetal defects and require women to answer intrusive questions.

The results of the questionnaires would be posted online.

Women would also be required to have an invasive vaginal ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the embryo or fetus in a third bill passed by the legislature Monday.

The requirements would be among the most "extreme" in the United States and are similar to those struck down by a state court as unconstitutional earlier this year, the Center for Reproductive Rights said.

"Despite the prospect and cost of additional legal challenges, the legislature is determined to severely limit women's ability to get an abortion in the state, approving laws with clear constitutional flaws and with absolute disregard for women's rights and health," the Center said in a statement urging a veto of the bills.

A spokesman for Governor Brad Henry declined to comment on his intention for the bills.

"Our office has not yet reviewed the final version of the legislation, and it's our standard policy not to comment on pending legislation until doing so," spokesman Thomas Larson told AFP.

Neighboring Nebraska passed a law last week prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a measure intended to target one the few remaining providers of late-term abortions in the United States.

The law is expected to face a legal challenge, but supporters hope they can use it to convince the Supreme Court that the state has an interest in protecting fetuses as soon as they are able to feel pain.

In the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not prohibit access to abortions prior to fetal viability -- which is generally seen to be somewhere around 24 weeks -- or when the pregnancy threatens the woman's health.

However, the court has upheld a number of state laws which essentially restrict access such as requiring parental notification when minors seek abortion or imposing strict and costly regulations on providers.

Meanwhile, the state of Tennessee on Monday passed the first of what is expected to be a number of laws aimed at prohibiting insurance exchanges created through President Barack Obama's landmark health reform from providing coverage for abortions.

© AFP 2014

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