Oklahoma governor signs 3 anti-abortion bills into law

[JURIST] Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry [official website] signed three anti-abortion bills into law Monday. The first bill [SB 1890 text, RTF] prohibits abortions performed because of the gender of the fetus. The second bill [SB 1891 text, RTF] creates the Freedom of Conscience Act and protects medical employees who refuse to participate in procedures such as abortion based on religious beliefs. The third bill [SB 1902 text, RTF] regulates the use of RU-486, or mifepristone, a chemical used in abortion procedures. State Senator Todd Lamb (R), a sponsor of one of the bills, explained the purpose [press release] of the new measures:


These bills were each approved previously by the Legislature, but were prevented from taking effect due to a court ruling that they violated Oklahoma's Constitution regarding single-subjects for legislation. ... We believed then and believe now these provisions reflect the values of our state, and have successfully reaffirmed them in the Senate as individual measures.

The bills contain emergency clauses, causing them to take effect immediately [NewsOK report].

The measures signed by the governor Monday were included in previous bills that were struck down by Oklahoma courts. In March, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] a broad abortion law that included the RU-486 restrictions. In February, a state court struck down another multi-part law [JURIST report] that included the prohibition on abortion based on the gender of a fetus. The Oklahoma Constitution [text] requires each piece of legislation to address only one subject. The Center for Reproductive Rights [advocacy website], which initially filed lawsuits against the bills, has indicated that it will challenge the constitutionality of the separated bills. Staff Attorney Stephanie Toti criticized the laws [JURIST comment], arguing that "they violate a myriad of constitutional principles, from freedom of speech to due process to equal protection of the law."

 

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