Oklahoma Supreme Court Strikes Down Law as Placing ‘Undue Burden on Access to Abortion’

Photo Credit: Credit Tomasz Kobosz
Photo Credit: Credit Tomasz Kobosz

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — The Oklahoma Supreme Court has struck down a state abortion law that it says both violates the “one subject” rule and “continues to place undue burdens on access to abortion under the guise of protecting the health of women.”

In January, the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit on behalf of Oklahoma abortionist Larry Burns to challenge a multi-faceted law centering on youth who obtain abortions.

The law required criminal penalties for anyone who helps a minor obtain an abortion without their parents’ consent, mandated samples to be taken from aborted babies whose mothers were younger than 14 in order for rape investigations to be conducted by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and gave permission to the Department of Health to conduct unscheduled inspections of abortion facilities.

Center Attorney Ilene Jaroslaw asserted that the law was unconstitutional because it “log rolled” multiple unrelated matters into one bill in violation of the Oklahoma Constitution’s “single subject” law, and unfairly targeted the abortion industry.

“What it really does is it’s a way of sneaking in provisions that target abortion providers,” she told reporters.

Last October, the Oklahoma Supreme Court blocked the law before it was to have taken effect in November. On Tuesday, it officially struck down the legislation, siding with the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“We find that each of the four sections of SB 642, lack a common purpose and are not germane, relative and cognate,” Justice Joseph Watt wrote on behalf of the nine judge panel. “We reject defendants’ arguments and find this legislation violates the single subject rule as each of these sections is so unrelated and misleading that a legislator voting on this matter could have been left with an unpalatable all-or-nothing choice.”

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“It is an inescapable conclusion that SB 642 will make it considerably more difficult for providers to operate, and accordingly will make it more difficult for the women of Oklahoma to exercise their federally-recognized constitutional right to control their own reproductive futures,” the concurrence, written by Justice Douglas Combs, also remarked.

The Center for Reproductive Rights applauded the outcome.

“Today’s decision is a critical victory for Oklahoma women and their doctors, who will no longer face the threat of criminal prosecution simply for providing safe and legal health care to their patients,” President Nancy Northup said in a statement. “This law was nothing but a cynical attack on women’s health and rights by unjustly targeting their trusted health care providers.”

But Lincoln Ferguson, spokesman for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, expressed disappointment.

“This law would have given law enforcement the ability to more easily prosecute sexual assaults of children that are discovered when a child under 14 has an abortion,” he said. “The attorney general’s office remains committed to defending laws aimed at protecting the safety and well-being of Oklahoma women.”

“The Oklahoma Supreme Court too often wields its power to strike down good legislation because a bill doesn’t suit the court’s political ideology,” also remarked bill author Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City. “The Supreme Court takes a very different view of the single subject rule when it suits a cause they support; however, the court’s application of the single subject rule becomes remarkably strict when it comes to pro-life legislation.”

As previously reported, in an introductory lecture to his course on obstetrics in 1854, Philadelphia obstetrician Hugh Lennox Hodge stated that an abortionist is a “charlatan, who sustains his existence by the price of blood.” He explained that if a woman were to come to a medical doctor in pursuit of an abortion, “he must, as it were, grasp the conscience of his weak and erring patient and let her know in language not to be misunderstood that she is responsible to her Creator for the life of the being within her.”

“We blush, while we record the fact that in this country, in our cities and towns, in this city, where literature, science, morality and Christianity are supposed to have so much influence; where all the domestic and social virtues are reported as being in full and delightful exercise; even here, individuals, male and female, exist, who are continually imbruing their hands and consciences in the blood of unborn infants,” Hodge said.

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  • Trilemma

    I don’t see how mandating samples to be taken from aborted babies whose mothers were younger than 14 in order for rape investigations to be conducted by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation creates an undue burden on access to abortion. According to the Guttmacher Institute, Oklahoma accounts for about 8% of all US abortions or about 6000 per year. Also according to the Guttmacher Institute, .2% of all abortions are for teenagers under the age of 15 or about 12 abortions per year for Oklahoma. Surely the abortion industry in Oklahoma can handle getting a tissue sample less than once a month.

    • Peter Blaise

      It is a warrantless and unconstitutionally targeted, discriminatory, unfunded, exercise, invasion of privacy, and … what are you going to do with it, force all males in Oklahoma to present their DNA for archiving in advance of them perhaps being accused of committing a crime someday in the future ( think socialist communist state where citizens are state property )?

      Plus, without the mother’s specific statement, there is no probable cause that a crime has been committed, and certainly no identified suspect or perpetrator, and other compromises.

      It might encourage rapists to use a condom, though, but rapists probably don’t think much about the ramifications of their behavior, so I doubt it.

      I’m more worried about parental notification, or permission, especially considering that the majority of sexual assault of children happens in the home — in those cases, the parental guardians have already harmed the child by negligence or assault, so empowering those guardians to maintain control over their victim is a horrible thing for the legislature to demand.

      • Trilemma

        How can you say there is no probable cause that a crime has been committed? The only way a 13 year old child can be pregnant is if she were raped. Since a crime has clearly been committed, an investigation needs to be undertaken and evidence needs to be collected.

        • Peter Blaise


          No, consensual sex between people of close ages is not considered rape in many jurisdictions, statutory or otherwise, especially if both are under the age of consent, so to speak.

          If you plan on using that DNA to identify a victim — perhaps a 12-year-old boy that she and her gal-pals pressured against his will into intoercourse — that still needs probable cause for a warrant to be issued, and the testimony of the pregnant female is the starting point, not some unrelated legislative body trying to claim that any time they personally feel shocked, shocked that illicit sex is going on somewhere ( without their participation ), then someone must pay.

          Excuse me, but the topic begs for the possibility that someone can steal a used condom and use a turkey baster — no crime or perpetrator or rapist there, either.

          Again, how are you going to pre-collect DNA from all men, folks who have no reason to be suspected of having committed a crime?

          Are you proposing a warrantless state where citizens belong to the state, socialist communism, is that your proposal?

          • Trilemma

            Investigators collect DNA evidence at crime scenes all the time without a warrant. There still needs to be a warrant to collect DNA from a suspect once one is found. Perhaps the law should have required the DNA to be collected and saved but only released when a warrant is presented or the girl has given her permission.

          • Peter Blaise

            It’s not a crime scene until someone reports a crime.

            It’s her body, not the state’s, it her choice, not the state’s.

            What part of your body do you surrender to the state ( the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary ) to do with as they wish?

          • Trilemma

            It’s not her body. No part of the girl’s body is being surrendered to the state to do with as they wish. Once the abortion procedure is completed, the aborted embryo or fetus is not part of the girl’s body.

          • Peter Blaise

            So, you believe that if you have a tooth removed, it becomes the possession of the state.

            How about a hair cut?

            Fingernail clippings?



            Do you have any Constitutional grounds for your supposition that the state owns anything separated from your body?

            If you lose a finger in an accident, does a doctor need state permission to sew state property onto your body, and does the state retain ownership after sewing that finger back on?

            What are the tax implications?

            You imply that there is no need for organ donorship because everything about your body belongs to the state anyway once you die and leave it behind.

            You are in the US, right?

            Not some socialist communist BIG government country where the state is supreme and individuals have no rights?

          • Trilemma

            Once any of the things you mentioned are separated from my person and property then the state is free to collect a DNA sample without a warrant. If I don’t want the state to take a DNA sample from my extracted tooth then I need to take it with me when I leave the dentist. If I don’t want the state to take a DNA sample from my hair then I need to bag it up and take it with me when I leave the barber.

            The law that required abortion clinics to collect a DNA sample was struck down because it supposedly placed a restrictive burden on the abortion industry and not because it supposedly violated the Fourth Amendment. If the abortion clinic bagged aborted fetuses and threw them into the dumpster, the state can retrieve them and take DNA samples without a warrant. The law placed a requirement on the clinic; it didn’t give the state a right it didn’t already have.

          • Peter Blaise

            So you agree that once any part f you becomes separate then it does not immediately become state property.


            Yes, women should designate medical donation of their aborted tissues ( or cremation, or take it home ).

  • Judy Zwyghuizen

    It is down right Murder and affect’s the Health of the mother if a child is aborted also and murder’s the Infant!

    • Peter Blaise

      Thank you for acknowledging that the woman is a mother — the majority of women seeking abortion services are mothers in deed, already raising a family of their prior children.

      Apparently we as a society do not provide for women and their children for life, so our women cannot accommodate one more birth.

      What can we do about our society’s inability or unwillingness to provide for life?

  • Judy Zwyghuizen

    Has anyone heard of BIRTH CONTROL or don’t open your leg’s!

    • Tangent002

      Yes, you’re right. No-one has ever thought of that before.

      Thanks! That fixes everything!

    • Peter Blaise

      Please write to your representatives and make birth control freely available for both women and men — great idea.

      ( Be prepared for religious objections. )

  • Robert

    What if every one by law was allowed to murder another person they did not want to ever be responsible for be around or deal with. Would you want to live in such a place.. Just because the United states said they had a right to murder. Abortion is murder just as surly as what was done in Germany during the second world war to Jews was murder even though they also had been given the right and blessings of their country’s government to murder those people.Unborn Babies are even more defenceless human beings than those Jews were and are people to.

    • Edward MacGuire

      Is English or Logic your problem?

      -Murder is the unlawful taking of life; abortion is lawful, therefore it is not murder.
      -There is a difference between a zygote, a fetus and a baby.
      -Abortion has been lawful in the U.S. since 1973 when Nixon was President; Obama was 12 years old and I doubt he had much influence on Roe vs. Wade.
      If you want to live in a country where a holy book is the law of the land, I hear Vatican City, Iran or Saudi Arabia are nice this time of year.

    • Peter Blaise

      No need to mix Scripture and our Constitution, they each apply in different realms.

      And abortion has nothing to do with President and Missus Obama.

      Regardless, the inside of an existing citizen belongs to that citizen, not to the state ( think socialist communism for state ownership of people’s bodies ).

      The jurisdiction of the abortion lies solely with the pregnant woman, and that’s where anti-abortion energies should be directed — not to prohibit, but to persuade and provide, and not just for birth, but for life ( otherwise we come across as pro-birth, but not really pro-life ).

      It would be nice if men took more responsibility for preventing unwanted pregnancies.

      The jurisdiction of unwanted pregnancies lies equally with men, yet I see no pro-birth energies addressing that.

      In fact, I see pro-birth folks clamoring behind a presidential candidate who brags about forcing unwanted sex on women.

      If we want to eliminate abortion, then perhaps we need to get our focus more clear:

      — prevent unwanted pregnancy

      — provide for life.

  • Amos Moses

    New Study Shows Link Between Sex, Pregnancy
    June 7, 2016

  • Peter Blaise

    What a novel and provocative concept — KISS Keep It Simple, focus legislature on one goal at a time.

    I like it.

    Considering the convoluted legislature across the country, I think KISS is a great idea, and I hope it spreads.