New Oklahoma abortion law challenged in court

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A new law that could criminalize abortion doctors and clinics is now being challenged in an Oklahoma County courtroom.

The measure was scheduled to go into effect Nov. 1 but was blocked by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in late October.

A hearing was held Friday morning before District Court Judge Thomas E. Prince.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is representing an abortion doctor who is challenging Oklahoma's latest abortion law.

"What it really does is it's a way of sneaking in provisions that target abortion providers," said Ilene Jaroslaw, who is representing an abortion doctor challenging the law.

Opponents of the measure say it not only targets doctors and clinics, it also violates the State Constitution's 'Single Subject' rule by including more than one provision in the law.

Under the measure, doctors would be penalized for filing late paperwork, even using the wrong font on a required sign at their clinic.

"In this provision, in this law that has multiple subjects, in there are various laws that make it more difficult to provide needed reproductive health services," Jaroslaw said.

However, proponents say the law protects minors from unlawful abortions and protects women from bad doctors.

A spokesperson for the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office told us in a statement:

"A local abortion provider was arrested last year for prescribing abortion-inducing drugs to women who were not actually pregnant. This blatant disregard for the health and safety of women exposed a vacuum in the enforcement of existing abortion laws in Oklahoma. Senate Bill 642 provides teeth to enforce existing abortion laws, including enhancing efforts of law enforcement to prosecute rapes of children discovered when a child under 14 has an abortion. The Oklahoma Attorney General's Office will continue to defend this and other laws aimed at protecting the safety and well-being of Oklahoma women."

While Jaroslaw agrees young rape victims need to be protected, it is all the other provisions that make the deal hard to swallow.

"No legislator would vote against enforcing statutory rape, but in order to do that, they had to vote for the entire bill," said Jaroslaw.

Judge Prince has given himself ten days to rule on whether to uphold the law or rule it unconstitutional.

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