OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Two longstanding state abortion laws were successfully defended against challenges led by a New York City-based abortion advocacy group.
Oklahoma County District Judge Natalie Mai ruled against putting on hold both a 1978 Oklahoma law that allows only physicians to perform abortions and a 2012 requirement that physicians must perform abortions in person, rather than by telemedicine, according to a news release issued by Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office.
Both laws were passed on “an overwhelming and bipartisan basis, and had never before been challenged,” the news release states.
Hunter made the following statement in the news release:
“This is an extreme lawsuit, seeking to overthrow commonsense safety laws that have been on the books for half a century combined. We appreciate Judge Mai’s thoughtful review and decision, which stays faithful to the U.S. Supreme Court’s repeated assertion that there is ‘no doubt’ that these types of laws are reasonable and constitutional ‘to ensure the safety of the abortion procedure.’
Abortion advocates used to say that abortion should be between a woman and her doctor, but now they are attempting to take the doctor out of the room, and out of the picture altogether. We look forward to our continued defense of these laws and others that have been enacted to protect Oklahoma women’s health and safety, as well as the dignity of the unborn.”
The lawsuit against the state was filed in November 2019 on behalf of the Trust Women clinic.
The lawsuit asserted that such abortion laws are unconstitutional because they restrict access to abortions without any valid medical basis, according to an Associated Press article.
The clinic’s attorneys argued that nurse practitioners are fully capable of providing both medication-induced and aspiration abortions, which account for nearly 90 percent of the roughly 5,000 abortions performed in Oklahoma in 2018, according to the article.
“Despite the safety, efficacy, and convenience of medication and aspiration abortion, Oklahomans face substantial obstacles in accessing these services because of legal barriers erected by the Oklahoma Legislature,” the lawsuit states.
Hunter said that a ruling in favor of putting a hold on the two abortion laws would have potentially threatened the state’s anti-opioid efforts because the state also restricts the distribution of opioids through telemedicine.
The Oklahoma State Medical Association, the Oklahoma Association of Nurse Practitioners and the Telehealth Alliance of Oklahoma supported Hunter’s defense of both laws, according to the news release.