There is quite arguably no greater divider in the United States than the issue of abortion. A source of both political and social divide for decades, there are still those who vehemently oppose it and others who will fight for it with all that they have. Last week, abortion opponents scored one in the courts when the Supreme Court struck down a highly restrictive abortion law.
Oklahoma’s Supreme Court struck down a law that would impose restrictions on abortion providers that required such things as taking samples of the fetal tissue of the aborted baby from any mother who is younger than fourteen years of age so that it may be preserved for state investigators.
The restrictive law also made it criminal for providers to violate the statutes such as fetal tissue samples or to try to circumvent parent consent. It also allowed for more stringent inspection and overseeing powers for abortion clinics around the state.
The original intention of the fetal tissue requirement was to capture predators and child rapists when possible. It was a law that was intended to protect women and children’s rights. Center for Reproductive Rights, based out of New York, however, has challenged the restrictions saying that they unfairly target only those facilities, that perform abortions.
All nine members of the Supreme Court unanimously found that the abortion laws violated the state’s Constitution in the respect that each legislative bill must only address one subject. The reason for their decision is that only one subject is allowed per bill to prevent legislators from tacking on provisions to pass laws that are unpopular and would likely not make it on their own merit.
The argument from proponents was that the bill does address only one subject, that subject being women’s reproductive rights. But, their argument was struck down. The court rejected it saying that the current bill violates the single-subject law and that the abortion law had the presumption of an “all or nothing” passage.
In addition, four of the nine judges stated they would have struck down the law on grounds that it was unconstitutional because it put an additional burden on those seeking an abortion, which is allowed by law.
Law enforcement and many a trial lawyer are disappointed by the ruling. They saw great gains in being able to prosecute child rapists using fetal tissue as evidence, especially in cases where girls are less than fourteen years of age.
President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup, believes that the law’s intention was nothing but a first step to limit the rights of women to make decisions for themselves. Stating it was a shameless attempt at intimidating women against following through with their abortion rights.
Oklahoma’s government is a Republican-dominated agency primarily focused on enforcing conservative ideals. The current ruling is a small victory for more left-minded thinkers. With the Presidential election on the horizon, the discussion of women’s rights is in full swing, making the issues more prominent across the nation.
In June of last year, the US Supreme Court struck down laws in Texas that likewise restrict facilities that performed abortions across the state. Other issue lately being debated in the courts is the recent ruling that pro-life pregnancy centers must give information about the option of abortion in California.
Although claiming that they have the first amendment rights to uphold their religious beliefs, any center that is licensed through the state must inform their patients about all options including abortion. Although a federal law, many abortion mandates are being tackled on a state level. Many abortion mandates are continually being passed and then challenged across the nation.