TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- A Tulsa clinic asked a federal judge Tuesday to bar enforcement of Oklahoma's new abortion
notification law, while it appeals his decision to let the law stand.
Nova Health Systems, the parent of Reproductive Services in Tulsa, contends the injunction is necessary because the law doesn't guarantee speedy resolution when girls under age 18 seek a court waiver from the parental notification now required before an abortion
Last week, U.S. District Judge H. Dale Cook rejected Nova's request for a temporary restraining order against the law it considers unconstitutional.
In Tuesday's motion, Nova asked Cook to ban the law's enforcement until the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules on its appeal of his earlier ruling, or until the Oklahoma Supreme Court sets its own time frames for the handling of requests for waivers from parental notification.
"If they (the state Supreme Court) should issue rules that set a time frame, it might cure the problem," said Bebe Anderson, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York who represents Nova.
She was not aware, however, of any plans by the state Supreme Court to develop such rules.
Charlie Price, spokesman for the state Attorney General's Office, said he had not seen the injunction request and couldn't comment on its specifics.
"The outcome of the last case was in our favor, and that's what we'll expect this time," he said.
The law, which took effect immediately after Gov. Brad Henry signed it May 20, prohibits a doctor from performing an abortion
on a minor unless a parent is notified 48 hours before the procedure. It includes exemptions if a physician decides the abortion
is needed to prevent the mother's death or other serious health risks.
Minors who don't want their parents notified can petition for a judicial bypass, in which a judge can authorize the abortion
by concluding the girl is mature enough to consent to the procedure or that it would be in her best interest not to notify her parents.
But Nova argued in Tuesday's motion that the lack of a specific time frame for handling such petitions or appeals when they are denied violates girls' rights of "liberty, privacy and equal protection."
"Other courts have found that when you have a specific time frame either in statute or in the rules, then the minor has protections, because abortion
is very time-sensitive," Anderson said.
Unlike other states, Oklahoma's parental notification law did not require the state's highest court to issue rules for handling such cases before the law took effect, she said.
Anderson told Cook last week that the health of young girls may be jeopardized if delays force them deeper into an unwanted pregnancy.
But Cook said in his ruling that the law "clearly sets forth expedition and confidentiality at every level of the judicial bypass process for the protection of the health, safety and welfare of every minor who seeks to utilize it."