Last week, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter successfully argued before Oklahoma County District Court Judge Natalie Mai to keep two abortion safety laws in place. The Trust Women abortion facility in Oklahoma City — formerly known as South Wind Women’s Center — filed the lawsuit in November 2019, seeking to overturn a 1978 law stipulating that abortions must be done by a physician as well as a 2012 law prohibiting telemedicine abortions.
The AG Office’s brief referenced a 1997 Supreme Court ruling that found “our prior cases left no doubt that, to ensure the safety of the abortion procedure, the States may mandate that only physicians perform abortions.”
The Attorney General praised the judge’s decision, commenting, “This is an extreme lawsuit, seeking to overthrow commonsense safety laws that have been on the books for half a century combined. We appreciate Judge Mai’s thoughtful review and decision, which stays faithful to the U.S. Supreme Court’s repeated assertion that there is ‘no doubt’ that these types of laws are reasonable and constitutional ‘to ensure the safety of the abortion procedure.’”
The Attorney General went on, “Abortion advocates used to say that abortion should be between a woman and her doctor, but now they are attempting to take the doctor out of the room, and out of the picture altogether. We look forward to our continued defense of these laws and others that have been enacted to protect Oklahoma women’s health and safety, as well as the dignity of the unborn.” Indeed, abortion advocates have launched a massive push for “self-managed” abortion via the abortion pill in recent years.
The Attorney General’s office was supported by the Oklahoma State Medical Association, the Oklahoma Association of Nurse Practitioners, and the Telehealth Alliance of Oklahoma. The Attorney General’s press release further noted that overturning the telemedicine law would have had implications for opioid crisis interventions in the state, since opioids cannot be prescribed through telemedicine either.
The Trust Women facility, which hospitalized a woman in November of 2018 due to a botched abortion, was supported by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which has challenged no less than six abortion laws in Oklahoma since 2014. Trust Women is owned by Julie Burkhart, former political lobbyist for the infamous late-term Kansas abortion provider George Tiller. Burkhart also owns a Trust Women clinic in Wichita, Kansas, located on the site of Dr. Tiller’s former facility. A third facility located in Seattle closed in December 2019, according to the website.
Three bills concerning telemedicine bans have recently been proposed in Congress, and Pennsylvania and Ohio also both recently introduced bills to ban telemedicine abortions in their states. According to the Ohio Star, “If Senate Bill 260 does become law in the Buckeye State, Ohio would become the 20th state to ban telemedicine abortions. Right now, 21 states have laws requiring doctors to be physically present during the telemedicine abortion procedure.”
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