- Associated Press - Friday, October 2, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - New Oklahoma anti-abortion laws that ban a second-trimester abortion procedure and increase the waiting period for women seeking an abortion were challenged Friday in a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Tulsa reproductive services clinic.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights filed the lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court on behalf of Reproductive Services of Tulsa, which the lawsuit says is the only licensed abortion facility that provides second-trimester abortion procedures in Oklahoma.

“Women who reside throughout the state of Oklahoma, as well as women from Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Texas travel to Reproductive Services to access reproductive health care,” the lawsuit states. On average, the clinic provides between 150 and 200 abortions each month, according to the lawsuit.

Each of the challenged measures was passed by the Republican-controlled Oklahoma Legislature with overwhelming support earlier this year. GOP Gov. Mary Fallin signed the measure banning the second-trimester procedure in April. The waiting period measure was signed into law in May. Both are scheduled to go into effect on Nov. 1.

One of the challenged measures would ban the second-trimester abortion procedure that critics have described as dismembering a fetus. The Center for Reproductive Rights says the ban could force some women to incur additional costs or lose access to the abortion service. It is similar to a law that was approved in Kansas that has been blocked by a state judge.

The measure’s principal author, Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, described the second-trimester abortion procedure as “cruel and inhumane” and said she believes the measure is important “to protect life.”

“I think it’s very important not to destroy the life of an unborn child,” said Peterson, who has authored and supported other anti-abortion legislation in the past.

The second measure would triple the state’s mandatory waiting period from 24 to 72 hours for women seeking an abortion after a doctor gives her details about the procedure, such as the age of the fetus, the risks involved, and that ultrasound and heart monitoring are available. Four other states impose a similar 72-hour waiting period, the lawsuit says.

The measure’s principal author, Rep. Lisa Billy, R-Lindsay, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

The lawsuit alleges the measures violate the constitutional rights of Oklahoma women.

“These acts, when viewed against the backdrop of Oklahoma’s comprehensive statutory scheme regulating and restricting access to abortion, serve no purpose other than to block access to abortion and jeopardize women’s health and well-being,” the lawsuit alleges. Since 2008, the Oklahoma Legislature has enacted 19 separate bills addressing abortion, several of which have been blocked, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also alleges the measures violate the Oklahoma Constitution’s ban against special laws because they apply only to women seeking abortions and the physicians who treat them.

District Judge Patricia Parrish set a hearing for Oct. 14 on Reproductive Services’ motion for a temporary injection to block the laws from going into effect and being enforced.

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Online:

House Bill 1721: https://bit.ly/19LxlZ5

House Bill 1409: https://bit.ly/1JUEx0l

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