Court Repeals OK Law Requiring Mandatory Ultrasounds And Fetus Descriptions


Ok, so this is good news first of all, but it's still very strange that this was ever even suggested and the act was passed in the first place and it leaves me wondering - WTF Oklahoma?

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma judge on Tuesday overturned a state law that required women seeking an abortion to receive an ultrasound and a doctor's description of the fetus.

Oklahoma County District Judge Vicki Robertson said the law violated constitutional requirements that legislative measures deal only with one subject. He did not rule on the validity of the ultrasound provisions.

Special Assistant Attorney General Teresa Collett said she will meet with state officials to discuss whether to appeal. The law was passed in 2008, but legal action has prevented it from going into effect.

It seems in 2008 the Oklahoma legislature enacted the Freedom of Conscience Act (full text Word doc). The bill not only contains very broad conscience protections for medical personnel who object to participating in a variety of procedures, but it also requires medical providers, before performing an abortion, to conduct an ultrasound and describe and display in detail the ultrasound image to the woman seeking the abortion.

Now, this is effed up in all kinds of ways, but Stephanie Toti says it best here:

Stephanie Toti, an attorney for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights that represented Nova, said Oklahoma is the only state in the nation that mandated a physician to both conduct an ultrasound and describe the images to the patient.

"The ultrasound provision takes away a patient's choice about whether or not to view an ultrasound, and it requires physicians to provide information to their patients that the physicians do not believe is medically necessary," Toti said.

"It's an affront to women's autonomy and decision-making power, and it's also an intrusion to the physician-patient relationship."

It seems obvious to me that this is an aggressive tactic meant specifically to bully and browbeat women who are already in a compromising position and often an emotional state. I stay away from posting too much about abortion because I have personal experience with it and find it very difficult to stay emotionally detached enough about the topic but this to me seems like a form of mental abuse. It's like the legislature saying 'We can't stop you from getting an abortion, so instead, we're going to force you and your doctor to have a conversation about the fetus before it's aborted, just so you feel like a real piece of shit for making this decision. And remember, you can always change your mind.'

Is this legislation religiously motivated? Well, it's very cleverly propositioned as a means to 'allow patients to know the full scope of the medical procedure they are requesting.' However, when you look into the political standing and backround of the main author of the bill, Todd Lamb, it's difficult to ignore the importance of religious this man presumes personally and professionally. The fact that this is a seemingly religiously motivated bill which is presented as if it is a medically inspired piece of legislature makes it all the more unsavory.

The presumption that abortion is as easy a decision as what to have for dinner that night is disgusting to me, as is the presumption that women don't understand 'enough' what they're doing by having an abortion. Most women are fully aware and suffer emotionally from making the choice - that doesn't mean they didn't make the right choice for them, the unborn, and society in general.

I'm glad this law was repealed and I have to assume it won't take long before the people who proposed this bill propose similar bills to take its place - ones which can't be dismissed on the same technicality. I can only hope for the people of Oklahoma - women and men - that ya'll have the sanity to stop these kinds of legistlastions in their tracks. How long will it be before the 'ethical protection' of doctors means the only physician in your small town can refuse to sell you condoms because of their religious beliefs? Or refuse to fill your heart medication because they feel medication is a sign of mistrust of their lord? Seriously, this kind of legislation is dangerous for reasons that go above and beyond abortion. Abortion is just the 'easiest' target when it comes to religiously motivated medical ethics legislation.