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    Update on Controversial Abortion Laws in Oklahoma

    A few days ago, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry vetoed two bills concerning abortion and mentioned privacy as one concern in his rejection of the legislation. State legislators were able to gather enough votes to override his veto, and these controversial bills have become law, reports the New York Times. One of the new laws mandates that women seeking an abortion undergo an ultrasound and hear to a detailed description of the fetus.

    Though other states have passed similar measures requiring women to have ultrasounds, Oklahoma’s law goes further, mandating that a doctor or technician set up the monitor so the woman can see it and describe the heart, limbs and organs of the fetus. No exceptions are made for rape and incest victims.

    A second measure passed into law on Tuesday prevents women who have had a disabled baby from suing a doctor for withholding information about birth defects while the child was in the womb.

    Opponents argue that the law will protect doctors who purposely mislead a woman to keep her from choosing an abortion. But the bill’s sponsors maintain that it merely prevents lawsuits by people who wish, in hindsight, that the doctor had counseled them to abort a disabled child.

    Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, vetoed both bills last week. The ultrasound law, he said, was flawed because it did not exempt rape and incest victims and would allow an unconstitutional intrusion into a woman’s privacy. […]

    Both of the laws enacted Tuesday over the governor’s objections were first passed in 2008 in an omnibus bill, along with several other anti-abortion measures. But state courts struck down the measure on a technicality, because it violated a clause in the Oklahoma Constitution requiring bills to deal with a single subject. […]

    Two other anti-abortion bills are still working their way through the Legislature and are expected to pass. One would force women to fill out a lengthy questionnaire about their reasons for seeking an abortion; statistics based on the answers would then be posted online. The other restricts insurance coverage for the procedures.

    Taken together, the various pieces of legislation would make Oklahoma one of the most prohibitive environments in the United States for women seeking to end a pregnancy, advocates for women and family planning said.

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