Oklahoma's abortion-reporting law

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You have likely heard about the lawsuit by abortion advocates seeking to halt implementation of Oklahoma's newly enacted abortion reporting legislation, due to go into effect on November 1, 2009. Here is a news release from Oklahomans for Life debunking a number of claims made in the lawsuit:

NEW OKLAHOMA ABORTION-REPORTING LAW DESIGNED TO HELP WOMEN Abortion advocates, news accounts misrepresent law

TULSA - Abortion advocates, aided by several recent news accounts, continue to misrepresent a new Oklahoma law strengthening abortion reporting in the state. The Statistical Reporting of Abortions Act, set to go into effect on November 1, 2009, was passed by large majorities in the Oklahoma House and Senate and signed into law by Governor Brad Henry in May. It is being challenged in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

"Abortion advocates either don't understand - or else are intentionally misrepresenting - Oklahoma's new abortion-reporting law," said Tony Lauinger, state chairman of Oklahomans For Life. "It is not true, as alleged, that reports about individual women's abortions will be posted online, nor will reports about individual abortions contain personal identifying information: no name, no address, no hometown, no county of residence, no patient ID number. To say otherwise is clearly false and misleads the public."

The Center for Reproductive Rights has persistently misrepresented the Oklahoma law, claiming that it requires doctors to provide information about where women live. These assertions are absolutely false.

As written, the new law requires that a report for each abortion be sent to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The questionnaire gathers demographic information including age, race, marital status and educational level and gathers information on the method of abortion used. Numerous states have similar reporting requirements, and the abortion industry collects and publishes similar information through annual surveys by the Guttmacher Institute (formerly the research arm of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America).

The new reporting form also asks for the reason the abortion is being sought. The reasons for the abortion listed on the questionnaire are adapted from the September 2005 report, "Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives" published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health by the Guttmacher Institute.

Contrary to claims of abortion activists, the new law actually protects a woman's privacy more extensively than current Oklahoma law. The current reporting form asks for the woman's county of residence. The new law, however, repeals the existing law and any identifying residential information has been eliminated in the new reporting form.

Reports gathered in Oklahoma's three abortion facilities would be submitted on a monthly basis to the Department of Health which will "ensure the security" of the reports. Further, reports may be "accessed only by specially authorized departmental personnel" who will not be able to identify the woman or know in which of Oklahoma's 77 counties she lives. The Department of Health will then produce an annual statistical analysis of the demographic information. Individual abortion reports will not be published.

"It is hoped that the information gathered will make it possible in the future to address some of the underlying societal problems, such as absence of child support or lack of childcare, which lead some women to seek abortions." Lauinger noted.

Abortion complications will also be reported under the new law. Abortion advocates frequently refer to abortion as being "safe, legal, and rare." However, very little data exist regarding abortion complications. When a lawsuit is filed over a botched abortion, there is typically an out-of-court settlement, so there is very little statistical data about the extent of the damage that abortion inflicts on women.

"Abortion is the most under-regulated, under-investigated, and under-researched procedure done on American women today, yet it is the most common and most potentially dangerous to their health and well-being," noted National Right to Life Director of State Legislation Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., in a September 29 release. "If a state can get a handle on the reasons women have abortions, it can lead to better programs that will make it easier for women to have their children rather than resort to abortion."

"Reducing the number of abortions is a goal that even abortion advocates claim to support. This legislation could help achieve that objective by identifying the problems that lead Oklahoma women to seek abortions. Important public-health benefits will be achieved by Oklahoma's Statistical Reporting of Abortions Act," Lauinger added.

The text of the law is available here: http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/2009-10bills/HB/HB1595_ENR.RTF.

The case is Davis v. W.A. Drew Edmondson.

Oklahomans For Life is the state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee. The National Right to Life Committee, the nation's largest pro-life group, is a federation of affiliates in all 50 states and 3,000 local chapters nationwide.

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Graychin said:

Who is lying? "Abortion advocates" (sic) - or the spokesman for Oklahomans for Life? I am comfortable with letting a judge decide.

"Reducing the number of abortions is a goal that even abortion advocates claim to support..."

That's true, if the method used to reduce abortion frequency isn't deliberately punitive. If the chosen method of reducing abortion is harassment (first view an unnecessary ultrasound), or intimidation (being asked a lot of nosy personal questions), then the method may place an "undue burden" on the woman's choice - which is unconstitutional.

We already know that women seek abortions because other choices seem closed to them due to lack of economic or social support. Is Mr. Lauinger pretending not to know this? Does he really believe that this intrusive questionnaire is necessary to find that out?

Does he deny that it is the questionnaire itself that is intended to discourage abortions?

"We already know"? How? And what harm is there in gathering more comprehensive information? Lauinger is pretending; he's right. For some reason -- probably because abortion advocates don't want to face reality -- abortion providers have never been subject to the same kinds of oversight and scrutiny as other medical providers. This bill begins to change that, and it will give us information that can be used to provide women seeking abortion with alternatives that don't involve maiming them and killing their children.

And as to "unnecessary" ultrasounds: If you were about to make a decision that would destroy a human life, wouldn't it be better to understand that before you made the decision, rather than learn it years later when it's too late to have anything but bitter regret?

Brooksider Author Profile Page said:

As I've asked before, why is abortion murder sometimes and sometimes not? I have not seen any serious proposal that prohibits or limits abortions in the cases of rape, incest, or the mother's safety. Why is the fetus, this to-be-protected-at-all-costs fetus, suddenly the bad guy deserving of execution in these cases,two of which must occur before the fetus even exists?

Does the state gather this kind of information on any other medical procedure (I really am asking because I don't know the answer)? It seems so deliberately intimidating.

The preventative to most abortions is contraception. Effective contraception requires education. Education requires parental support. Parental support...well, there's a mystery.

So what happens if we eliminate abortions? What happens to those unwanted children? Conservatives don't want the state to teach their children the alphabet, but somehow will it be OK for the state to raise these unwanted children? Will they remain with one or both parents to suffer resentful abuse and neglect? Who will adopt them? How many physically and sexually abused children will you adopt? How many AIDS babies? How many crack babies? How many fetal alcohol syndrome babies?

Will the state force women to have these babies and then be further humiliated by conservatives calling them "welfare mothers" who have babies just to get more welfare?

The solution must begin with compassion. Not just bureaucratic handouts but compassion, loving-kindness, and forgiveness, for the born and unborn, mother and child. The answer is not in statistics and demographics, but in our hearts. We can start right now.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 22, 2009 1:28 AM.

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