Okla. ultrasound law is constitutional and ‘commonsense’ abortion regulation, backer says

Okla. ultrasound law is constitutional and ‘commonsense’ abortion regulation, backer says


Women aren’t done any favors when the truth about abortion is hidden from them, says a backer of a new “commonsense” Oklahoma law that requires a doctor to give an ultrasound to a woman seeking an abortion. His comments come in response to a legal challenge from the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR).

The law passed on Tuesday after a bipartisan vote in the Oklahoma legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Brad Henry’s veto.

The law requires the doctor to show a woman the ultrasound image of her unborn baby and to describe the image in detail before performing an abortion.

In a Tuesday statement, the CRR argued that the requirement for an ultrasound “profoundly intrudes” on a patient’s privacy, calling it “the most extreme ultrasound law in the country.”

“The law forces a woman to hear information that she may not want to hear and that may not be relevant to her medical care,” the CRR continued, saying this alleged compulsion discounts “her abilities to make healthy decisions about her own life.”

The organization also claimed that the law interferes with the doctor-patient relationship.

Stephanie Toti, staff attorney in the U.S. Legal Program of the CRR, claimed that the law was “clearly unconstitutional” and detrimental to women. She also said a court fight would waste Oklahoma taxpayers’ money.

CNA spoke about the new law in a Wednesday interview with Tony Lauinger, state chairman of Oklahomans for Life.

He said the law is in fact constitutional, noting the “very clear” rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The state has a right to ensure that a woman receives sufficient information to give fully informed consent,” Lauinger commented, adding that the law provides important information to a woman in advance of an “irrevocable, lethal act.”

“Many women suffer severe psychological and emotional trauma as a result of having had abortions,” he explained, contending that the law will “help empower women.”

Countering the claims of the CRR, Lauinger said the law does not intrude on a woman’s privacy or violate the doctor-patient relationship.

“We believe the description of the images on the ultrasound screen is a very logical and proper part of the informed consent process. A woman is entitled to the benefit of this information. A doctor is obliged to provide that information. The law doesn’t tell the doctor how to describe the images, but he is to describe what is depicted on the screen.”

To CRR’s claim that a court fight will waste taxpayer money, he replied:

“It is they who are filing the lawsuit. That charge makes no sense.”

Asked how the law will affect abortion doctors, Lauinger answered that abortion is “an assembly-line, mass-production type of process” that is “extremely impersonal” and has “virtually no interchange between the abortionist and the woman.”

“So this will provide much more beneficial information to a woman before she gets the abortion,” he explained.

If the doctor is the one explaining the images of the ultrasound screen, he noted, the law will actually increase the amount of contact between the doctors and the patient.

The law may also increase the amount of time a doctor spends explaining the consequences of abortion on her unborn child.

“The abortion industry tries to hide the truth from women about the baby in the womb. This law will help provide to the women a window on her womb.”

In Lauinger’s view, it is much better for a woman to have that knowledge before she takes the “irrevocable and lethal step of having her own child killed by abortion.” Otherwise, she could suffer “devastating results” when she sees an ultrasound on television or on a friend’s refrigerator and feels “powerless to undo the past.”

Asked to explain why legislators were so supportive of the law, he said Oklahoma has a “wonderful legislature” and “great elected officials” in the state House and Senate.

“The people of Oklahoma are pro-life, this issue is one with which our legislators are familiar.”

“They recognize the commonsense benefits of providing a woman all possible info prior to an abortion,” Lauinger explained. “Hopefully many unborn children will have their very lives spared.”

Legislators who did not support the bill are “overlooking some important factors,” he thought.

Abortion facilities routinely perform ultrasounds already, including the facility that has filed suit against such laws, he reported. “They acknowledged that they do an ultrasound before every abortion that they perform.

“What this bill does is require the abortion facility to turn the screen at an angle where the mother may view it. She can see it if she wants to look.

“Such a commonsense measure could save a lot of lives and spare a lot of women a lifetime of emotional and psychological anguish. We are disappointed that some might not vote for it, and very disappointed that the governor chose to veto it.

“We don’t do pregnant women any favors when we hide the truth from them,” Lauinger told CNA.

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