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New Oklahoma Law Further Restricts Access To Abortion

In Health, women on December 17, 2009 at 10:18 pm
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 22:  Pro-choice supp...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Oklahoma’s new abortion law is overly invasive, says a report on NPR.

In Oklahoma, a new law requires any woman seeking an abortion to first answer dozens of personal questions, including why she wants the procedure. That information, names omitted, would eventually be posted on a state Web site.

Those who support the measure say it will help them better understand why women are seeking abortions. Abortion rights advocates call the law intimidating and invasive, and this week, they are challenging it in court. Legal experts say the law is another test of how far states can go to regulate abortion.

A Necessary Law, Or Intolerable?

The survey in Oklahoma’s new abortion law includes some of the following questions: Would having a baby dramatically change a woman’s life, or interfere with her job or education? Is she unemployed, or unsure of a relationship with the father?

How can we counsel, how can we treat, how can we offer counseling to mothers to be that are choosing abortion, if we don’t have hard-core facts?

- Oklahoma state Sen. Todd Lamb

“This is not going in and getting a wart removed. This is a procedure that ends a human life,” says Oklahoma state Rep. Dan Sullivan. He says the law is valid and necessary.

“And because it’s a special procedure, we believe that it’s appropriate to be able to find out why these are going on and if there is something that we can do to change that,” Sullivan says.

But abortion rights activists call the law — and the survey — intolerable….

Forty-six states have laws that require clinics and hospitals to submit some kind of reports about the abortions they perform. But clinics in Oklahoma say this law is an invasion of privacy that goes far beyond abortion reporting requirements in any other state.

Linda Meek, executive administrator of Reproductive Services in Tulsa, Okla., says it’s discouraging and intrusive to patients.

“If they want to reduce the number of abortions, then they need to concentrate on educating women about preventing unwanted pregnancies, educating them about emergency contraception, birth control — and making birth control more accessible,” Meek says.

Abortion rights groups also fear that women could be identified based on the information they provide, especially women who live in Oklahoma’s small rural communities.

How much should a woman be asked before she can have an abortion? Are any questions fair?

  1. So, uh, how does that “further restrict access to abortion”?

  2. Only three counties in that state now offer abortions. The law, critics say, and I agree, is meant to intimidate women who want one. In that sense, I feel it’s restricting access by making the process more difficult, in an already politically conservative state. This measure is being put forward by the state’s governor.

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  4. Ok, so this will be my second true/slant comment this morning wanting to smack bad pollsters in the head. Good data gathering is about extracting information from a large number of events that you couldn’t find out otherwise. Ms. Meek correctly points out that we already have a great deal of information on the root causes of abortions and how to lower abortion rates. The fact that all the questions listed are yes/no questions confirms that the questionnaire is not going to turn up any new information. At best, the people who came up with this are looking for ammo for conclusions they’ve already made. At worst, they’re looking to push poll (ie, if having a baby wouldn’t end your career, then you must just be evil and heartless) or intimidate with an implied threat that someone might recognize the patients data. I choose to believe the former, because I like to sleep at night.

    If they really wanted information, they could mandate counseling, in legally protected confidence, by a mental health professional who could then make recommendations to the state based on his/her clinical observations and expertise. Even safe, legal abortion is a trauma for most women who go through it, and an hour of counseling before the procedure could also help prevent depression and other issues down the road or at least provide someone safe to contact if they do arise.

  5. datajunkie, good points. Thanks.

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