Going to Extremes to Prevent Abortion.

The Oklahoma Legislature has voted to override Gov. Brad Henry's veto of two of the strictest abortion measures in the nation. States have so far used health-care reform as an excuse to restrict access to abortion by eliminating them from the exchanges and passing other laws that further limit a woman's right to choose. Nebraska recently went a step further by trying to introduce the prospect of fetal pain to outlaw abortions after 20 weeks, pretty much inventing a scientific consensus where none exists.

But Oklahoma's bill is even worse. It would force doctors to give women a detailed description of the fetus, and to undergo an ultrasound before getting an abortion. As Claire Potter at the Tenured Radical blog found out, this includes an ultrasound probe in cases where that would provide a clearer picture of the fetus. Those tend to provide clearer pictures earlier in the pregnancy, which is when most women seek abortions.

Because the probe is inserted, Potter thinks it might meet the technical statutory definition of rape in Oklahoma, which encompasses the insertion of instruments into the vaginal cavity for any reason and the new law would force women who are seeking abortion to undergo the procedure. (Other medical procedures, like pap smears and abortions themselves, also involve inserting instruments, but those are part and parcel of a voluntary medical procedure, not a precondition of one.) Moreover, the law does not exclude women who are seeking an abortion after a rape or an incident of incest, so it requires those victims to undergo this invasive process. As NPR notes, many describe this as the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the country.="http:>

It's also probably a waste of time, as Henry told news outlets.

"Both laws will be challenged and, in all likelihood, overturned by the courts as unconstitutional," Henry said after the override votes. "I fear this entire exercise will ultimately be a waste of taxpayers' time and money."

-- Monica Potts

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