By Dave AndruskoOn February 11, Oklahoma County District Judge Don Andrews upheld the state’s 2014 law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.
Last Thursday The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to overturn Senate Bill 1848 which the CRR says is “designed to shut down abortion clinics.”
The CRR filed the lawsuit on behalf of Larry Burns, who is said to perform nearly half of Oklahoma’s abortions. “The group said Burns would likely have to close his practice if the law takes effect,” the Associated Press reported. “The other clinic in the state that performs abortions is Reproductive Services of Tulsa.”
In his February 11 decision Judge Andrews concluded “this requirement would advance the state’s compelling interest in patient care and safety,” adding that law does not single out abortion providers or their patients.
“The state has a legitimate, constitutionally recognized interest in protecting women’s health,” Andrews continued. “Requiring physicians to maintain admitting privileges at a hospital furthers that interest inasmuch as the physician must demonstrate competency in the surgical procedures that they perform.”
Andrews added that the law “is not to place an obstacle between a woman and her ability to receive an abortion. Rather, it is a protection mechanism to ensure that she receives prompt and efficient health care, when necessary.”
Responding to Judge Andrews’ decision, attorney General Scott Pruitt said “Oklahoma lawmakers passed this bill to protect the health and safety of Oklahoma women requiring quick and efficient emergency care. The law requires abortion facilities to follow health and safety protocols similar to those for outpatient surgical centers and birthing centers.”
Pruitt added, “The attorney general’s office will continue to defend this law and others enacted to protect Oklahomans’ health and safety.”
The law has never taken effect because of a temporary injunction. Judge Andrews said the injunction will remain in place while the case is appealed to the state Supreme Court.