Oklahoma doctor sues state over law aimed at abortion clinics

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OKLAHOMA COUNTY, Okla. - A legal battle over abortion involves an Oklahoma doctor who says a new law is focused on closing his practice.

On Thursday afternoon, officials held a hearing in Oklahoma County for what opponents are calling 'Oklahoma's shutdown law.'

They say the law is designed to essentially shut down abortion practices in our state, even though abortion is legal.

Attorneys for a national reproductive rights group and Dr. Larry Burns, of Norman, are suing the State of Oklahoma over a new law that some say limits access to safe, legal abortions.

"These are really shammed laws that have been passed by politicians who are looking to shut down clinics that have nothing to do with women's health or safety," Center for Reproductive Rights attorney Genevieve Scott said.

The new state law has a requirement involving hospital admitting privileges.

Specifically, the law requires a doctor with hospital privileges to be on site when those procedures are performed.

The bill required a “physician that has the ability to assess the duration of pregnancy, diagnose ectopic pregnancies, is able to provide or has plans in place to provide surgical care, and has access to medical facilities equipped to provide blood transfusions and resuscitation may provide an abortion inducing drug.”

Dr. Burns says he has been turned away by 16 hospitals in the metro.

"These laws and laws like them seek to limit access to abortion services, whether it be by banning a certain kind of abortion or by trying to create regulations for clinics," Scott said.

Attorneys for Burns call this a copy cat law because several other states in the South have recently passed similar laws - all of which are now being challenged in court.

"[These are] just trap laws that are designed to shut down clinics and get between the doctor and the patient in the exam room," Scott said.

Back in December, the doctor's attorneys went to the Oklahoma Supreme Court with an emergency appeal to make sure he could keep performing abortions until the issue gets resolved.

Burns does more than half the abortions in Oklahoma.

On Thursday, the judge was not ready to make a ruling on the case and gave both sides about two pages of questions he wants answered before another hearing.

That next hearing is set for February.

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