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Bill to Strengthen Women’s Right to Know Law on its way to Oklahoma Governor

by | May 4, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Oklahoma State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft

A bill strengthening the woman’s right to know law in Oklahoma has now passed the House and Senate and is on its way to Gov. Mary Fallin for her signature.

Wednesday House Bill 2561 passed the House 89-0. The measure passed the Senate last week 33-9.

The law would allow civil action to be taken against abortion providers who do not provide pregnant women the information required under the state’s informed consent law, or if something goes wrong during the abortion.

“This gives women additional rights when they are being informed,”  Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, the bill’s author, told The Oklahoman newspaper. “No one wants a girl to be tricked into having an abortion.”

In addition to a 24-hour waiting period Oklahoma’s “A Woman’s Right to Know” law requires abortionists (including those that perform chemical /RU486 abortions) to provide information about the baby’s development; medical risks associated with the abortion technique; alternatives; the financial obligations of the father; and the fact that that the baby can feel pain after 20 weeks gestation.

In addition under Oklahoma’s 2010 Ultrasound Act, abortionists must position the ultrasound screen at an angle so that the mother can view the images, if she chooses. The law also requires that the abortionist “provide[s] a medical description of the ultrasound images, which shall include the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity, if present and viewable, and the presence of external members and internal organs, if present and viewable.”

Mary Spaulding Balch, JD, directs NRLC’s Department of State Legislation. She said that civil remedies are a crucial component of pro-life legislation.

“For whatever reason—maybe because they think abortion is too ‘controversial’ or perhaps because they are personally pro-abortion—prosecutors are often unwilling to bring criminal charges  against abortionists even when they are warranted,” Balch said. “Laws like Oklahoma’s are a strong reinforcement, reminding abortionists they are obliged to follow the law whether they want to or not.”

Tony Lauinger, State Chairman of Oklahomans for Life & Executive Vice-President of the National Right to Life Committee, told NRL News Today, “We have been trying to find the best way to ensure that those doing abortions in Oklahoma are obeying the various laws that have been enacted by our legislature regarding parental involvement, informed consent, etc.”

He added, “This Civil Remedies law, we believe, is the answer. Oklahomans For Life’s Vice Chairman Kevin Calvey deserves a great vote of thanks for developing this approach and guiding it through the process.”

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Categories: Legislation