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OKLAHOMA abortion law challenged

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TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Opponents of Oklahoma's new parental notification law said Wednesday that it could interfere with a young woman's legal right to have an abortion.

``That act has had a chilling effect on abortion providers in the state,'' said Bebe Anderson, an attorney for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Law & Policy. ``Though the language is simple, the impact of that language is quite large.''

Anderson argued that the law is vague and overreaching during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Terry Kern on a lawsuit filed by a Tulsa-based company that challenges the law.

The lawsuit seeks to enjoin the state from enforcing the law that requires minors to notify their parents or get their parents consent before they get an abortion. Kern took the case under advisement and did not say when he will hand down a ruling.

Gov. Frank Keating signed House Bill 1727 into law on June 4. The lawsuit was filed by Nova Health Systems, parent company of Reproductive Services & Adoption Affiliates.

The company charged that the law was unconstitutional because it restricted minors' ability to seek abortions by requiring parental notification and consent without providing exceptions for emergency procedures to save lives or preserve health.

``Even worse is the law's failure to recognize exceptions for young women who have suffered physical or sexual abuse at the hands of their parents or guardians,'' Anderson said.

The lawsuit also questioned a section of the new law that makes those who perform abortions on minors without parental consent or knowledge liable for the cost of any subsequent medical treatment the minor may require because of the abortion.

State Rep. John Sullivan, R-Tulsa, was the law's principal author. Earlier, Sullivan called the lawsuit claims ``a typical last-minute pro-abortion argument.''

Sullivan said his bill was ``a small step in the right direction.''

He had said if he is advised that the language of the measure needs to be tightened, he would ask that it be modified at this summer's special legislative session.

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