An Oklahoma state law that requires doctors at abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges was struck down Tuesday by the state’s highest court. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the law places an undue burden on a woman’s access to abortion, and violates the state constitution’s single subject rule.
The case was brought by Dr. Larry Burns, a physician in Norman who unsuccessfully sought admitting privileges at 16 area hospitals. He’s one of only a few doctors in the state who performs abortions, and claims the law would either force his clinic to close, or risk criminal and civil penalties.
The Center for Reproductive Rights argued the case before the court. Lead counsel Genevieve Scott says these types of laws undermine women’s health.
“These laws are a sham,” Scott said. “The idea that they protect women’s health is a false pretext. The real intent is to shut down clinics and make it impossible for women to get safe, legal and essential reproductive health care.”
Scott says the law was designed to create regulations that would impossible for some providers.
“By unfairly singling out women’s health care providers, they only serve to drive reputable, experienced reproductive health care providers out of practice and deprive women of access to their care,” Scott said.
Gov. Mary Fallin, in a statement quoted by The Oklahoman, was disappointed by the ruling.
"Like many bills passed in Oklahoma, this bill was designed to protect the health and welfare of the mother along with the life of the unborn, which always should be among our society's priorities."
A similar law in Texas cut the number of abortion providers in that state by half before the U.S. Supreme Court found it unconstitutional earlier this year.