Judge Rules Oklahoma Abortion Law Unconstitutional
By Amy Lester, Oklahoma Impact Team
OKLAHOMA CITY -- An Oklahoma County judge has ruled a law regulating abortions violates the state's constitution.
Judge Daniel Owens issued the ruling Friday afternoon on HB 1595 saying the law violated the single-subject provision of the Oklahoma Constitution. The provision requires that laws only address one subject.
Oklahoma residents Lora Joyce Davis and Wanda Stapleton challenged the law in a suit file last year. Their lawyers and attorneys from the Center for Reproductive Rights argued that the law was unconstitutional because it addressed four different subjects instead of one.
The law bans women from getting an abortion simply because they want a child with a different sex. It also requires doctors to ask patients nearly 40 personal questions. Many of them detail the woman's relationships and reasons for seeking an abortion.
Judge Daniel Owens' ruling prohibits that state from enforcing the law.
"We are very pleased with today's ruling," Center for Reproductive Rights Attorney Jennifer Mondino said in a statement. "The government has no business running a grand inquisition into the private lives of Oklahoma women and wasting a quarter of a million dollars of tax payers' money in the process."
There was a strong reaction from both sides.
"It's clearly something that should not be, as the court itself said tolerated in a civilized society and yet we now have a court that says our state constitution forbids it," Assistant Attorney General Teresa Collett said.
Frustration for the state's lawyers who argued the bill is about one subject. But, the judge and plaintiffs agreed it has multiple subjects, which is not allowed. Extra subjects like the new reporting requirements that would force doctors to ask patients nearly 40 very personal questions about why they're seeking abortions.
"The ruling today basically says that the legislature has to take each single sentence and create a new bill, that will paralyze the legislation and it brings into question most of the existing statutes on the books," Collett said.
The legislature is already discussing new bills which address each single subject in this law. The plaintiffs in this case stand ready to possibly challenge those bills, too.
"I'm getting tired of having to fight it, but we have to keep fighting because we don't want the government to take over our bodies," plaintiff Lora Davis said.
Altogether, there are seven, single-subject anti-abortion bills. They cover issues in this law and the law that would force women to have an ultrasound before getting an abortion. The court ruled that one unconstitutional, it's currently on appeal.