Oklahoma just passed the country's strictest law on pre-abortion ultrasounds, along with another law that basically allows doctors to lie to pregnant women.
According to James McKiley Jr. of the Times, the Oklahoma legislature voted today to overturn vetoes of both laws. The first, a similar form of which was struck down by Oklahoma courts last year, requires "a doctor or technician to set up the monitor where the woman can see it and describe the heart, limbs and organs of the fetus. No exceptions are made for rape and incest victims." This is already invasive — Dionne Scott of the Center for Reproductive Rights calls it "the most extreme ultrasound requirement in the country."
The second law, however, is even more disturbing. Basically, it protects doctors from being sued if they decide not to tell patients that their fetus has birth defects. Writes McKinley, "The intent of the bill is to prevent parents from later suing doctors who withhold information to try to influence them against having an abortion."
Just take a minute to digest that. In Oklahoma, it's now legal to keep health information from patients in order to make their reproductive decisions for them. Of course, the doctors who perform prenatal tests won't be raising the children born to the prospective parents they treat. And yet those doctors can have a say — through subterfuge — in whether those parents choose to give birth or not. Now that this has passed, it's tempting to wonder what information Oklahoma doctors will get to lie about next. Perhaps they could tell teen girls that condoms spread AIDS. Or maybe just convince women that they're not actually pregnant until it's too late for an abortion. The possibilities are endless!
Barring another court challenge, this law appears set to take effect. Two bills, however, are still in the Oklahoma legislature. One limits insurance coverage for abortion, and the other, which we wrote about last year, would establish an online database where women would have to disclose information about their abortions. Oklahomans, now's the time to call your representatives.