Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson has agreed to a court order requested by abortion providers to temporarily block enforcement of a new state law, which requires women to get an ultrasound and hear a detailed description of the fetus.
The agreement was announced Monday, before a scheduled hearing in Oklahoma County District Court on the request for a temporary restraining order by the Center for Reproductive Rights. District Judge Noma Gurich said attorneys for both sides told her they would accept the order.
Gurich says she will now schedule a hearing for sometime in July on a request for a temporary injunction against the law. An injunction would extend the restraining order. She said she expected to sign the temporary restraining order later Monday.
Tony Lauinger, state chairman of the group Oklahomans for Life and vice president of the National Right to Life Committee, expressed disappointment.
"We're sorry to see implementation of the law delayed" Lauinger said. "This has been a long process and apparently it will be a little longer."
Lauinger said he believes the law will eventually be upheld.
The abortion law went into effect last week after the state House and Senate overrode Gov. Brad Henry's veto of the bill.
The person who performs the ultrasound must describe the dimensions of the fetus, whether arms, legs and internal organs are visible and whether the physician can detect cardiac activity. He or she must also turn a screen depicting the images toward the woman so she can see them.
A lawsuit was filed by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of two Oklahoma abortion providers, Nova Health Systems, operator of Reproductive Services of Tulsa, and Dr. Larry Burns, who the group said provides abortions in Norman.
The Center for Reproductive rights has said the law is among the nation's strictest measures against abortion. It said the ultrasound requirement intrudes upon a patient's privacy and forces a woman to hear information that may not be relevant to her medical care. The group also believes it could interfere with the doctor-patient relationship by compelling physicians to deliver unwanted speech.
Lauinger said the measure is an attempt to save the lives of unborn children and prevent psychological trauma to pregnant woman.
Officials at Reproductive Services of Tulsa have said the requirements of the law had drawn emotional responses from patients. They said some patients have left the room where ultrasounds procedures are performed in tears because of what they had to hear.
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