By Susan Elan
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Enforcement of an Oklahoma law that will publicize an unprecedented amount of personal information about women who undergo abortions has been delayed by at least one month, to Dec. 4, as part of a legal challenge.
(WOMENSENEWS)--An Oklahoma law mandating that detailed information about patients who have abortions be published on a state Web site was blocked by legal action on Monday.
The law was scheduled to take effect Nov. 1.
To challenge the state constitutionality of the law, the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Oklahoma women.
The center's spokeswoman Dionne Scott said a temporary restraining order that stops enforcement was granted late Monday by Oklahoma County District Court Judge Twyla Mason Gray so that she could "look further into the case."
The law, House Bill 1595, requires physicians to ask patients, described as "mothers," up to 37 personal questions, including their age, marital status, race, years of education, number of prior pregnancies, reason for the abortion, method of abortion and payment and whether an ultrasound was performed.
Former state Rep. Wanda Jo Stapleton, an Oklahoma City Democrat who brought the lawsuit with Lora Joyce Davis, a resident of Shawnee, Okla., applauded the court granted reprieve.
"This is one of dozens of bills piled on year after year by the Oklahoma legislature to place obstacles in the path of women," Stapleton said on Tuesday. "The bill points a public finger at women and is intended to scare them to death."
Suspense about whether the law could take effect has been building since Oct. 13 when the state court, at the request of the attorney general, postponed an Oct. 30 hearing on the lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court until Dec. 4, which would have allowed the law to take effect with the challenge pending.
Jennifer Mondino, a Center for Reproductive Rights staff attorney, told Women's eNews that delaying the hearing date, which would have allowed the law to be in effect for more than a month, was "very unusual."
By Stevens and Bowen