Judge Blocks Oklahoma GOP’s Ban on D and E Abortions

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Judge Blocks Oklahoma GOP’s Ban on D and E Abortions

Jessica Mason Pieklo

A state court judge ruled from the bench Wednesday that a law banning the most commonly used method of ending a pregnancy during the second trimester should be blocked.

An Oklahoma state court judge ruled from the bench Wednesday that a law banning the most commonly used method of ending a pregnancy during the second trimester should be blocked.

Judge Patricia Parrish issued the temporary injunction in a lawsuit challenging HB 1721, a measure that bans so-called dismemberment abortions. Advocates claim the GOP-backed law really targets dilation and evacuation (D and E), the most commonly used second-trimester abortion method.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed this month by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) challenging both HB 1721 and HB 1409, a measure that triples the state’s forced waiting period for an abortion from 24 to 72 hours. Governor Mary Fallin (R) signed both measures into law this past spring. However, Parrish failed to block the mandatory waiting provision, which is set to take effect as of November 1. CRR said in a statement that its attorneys are exploring all legal options in response to the possibility of HB 1409 taking effect.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of CRR, said in a statement that the ruling “rightly ensures Oklahoma physicians won’t be thrown behind bars for providing safe, legal, and individualized health care to their patients,” but “falls short of recognizing women as capable decision-makers who do not need to be told to go home and wait at least three days before they can get the care they need.”

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This is the eighth lawsuit in five years filed by attorneys for CRR challenging unconstitutional restrictions on reproductive health care in Oklahoma, where Republicans dominate the legislature.

Most recently, in September, CRR challenged an omnibus measure it claims blatantly violates the Oklahoma Constitution. CRR is also challenging the state’s Texas-style clinic shutdown law and its recently passed restrictions on medication abortion. The state Supreme Court temporarily blocked the clinic shutdown law from taking effect in November 2014 and a state court permanently blocked the restrictions on medication abortion last month.