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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/19/10

Oklahoma Women Retain Control Over Their Own Bodies

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Message James Nimmo
(OKLAHOMA CITY) This afternoon, February 19, Oklahoma County Court Judge Daniel L. Owens found in favor of the plaintiffs, Wanda Jo Stapleton and Jo Davis, in their lawsuit contending that HB 1595 contained more than one topic, violating the Oklahoma Constitution and previous State Supreme Court mandates.

HB 1595 was the latest attempt to separate women from their bodily integrity by allowing politicians, both male and female, to practice medicine without a license.

This decision is a victory for all Oklahoma women. In the ruling Judge Owens said after his extensive reading of the bill and the cases cited by both plaintiffs and defendant he could not determine that the bill was valid under the Oklahoma Constitution. He went on to say he was not determining if abortion was legal or not, but that this bill was invalid due to containing more than one topic and was not enforceable.

Judge Owens delivered a miniature civics lesson in the duties of the three branches of government in Oklahoma, emphasizing that the courts do not make policy. He spoke of the germaneness test that analyzes the purposes of statues under review.

The State has ten days to file an appeal. Judge Owens complimented the attorneys on both sides as to the quality of their presentations and documents filed supporting their arguments.

Mrs. Stapelton and Mrs. Davis were represented by Martha Hardwick of Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Center for Reproductive Rights based in New York. A summary of the case can be read at their website: http://reproductiverights.org/en/case/davis-v-wa-drew-edmondson-ok or http://tinyurl.com/yb5wo57 .

The Attorney-General's office as required by law defended the bill with outside legal assistance.

Additional information can be read here from Channel 9 of Oklahoma City--

Judge Owens remarked that selective abortion prohibitions only concerned two paragraphs of a multi-page bill and the rest of the text referred to multiple topics which was why he found the bill to be invalid.

The defense attorneys had kept as the center of their argument that the purpose of this bill was to prevent selective abortions due to the sex of the fetus.

However, according to a statement made by Jo Davis with information drawn from the Oklahoma Health Department's own website, OK2SHARE, 96% of abortions in Oklahoma are performed before the 18-20th week of pregnancy when the sex of the fetus can not be determined.

The double standard of politicians who on the one hand keep touting less interference from government, on the other hand have no qualms about placing themselves alongside, if not in front of, the trained medical professionals involved in personal procedures.

Women who have made the difficult, emotional decision to have an abortion do not need the additional hubris brought on by interfering amateurs, charlatans, and Elmer Gantry's. Politicians should not be using taxpayer dollars to reinforce their election campaign issues.

The complete statement from Mrs. Davis continues here:

Current abortion statistics can be found at http://www.health.state.ok.us/ok2share/itop.html .These statistics are listed by year and for all 77 counties. Data about race, education level, marital status, patient's abortion and pregnancy history, type of procedure, and length of gestation, is all included. This site proves that basic usable data is already available and that there is no need to annually spend a quarter of a million dollars to create this data base. This bill was created to allow the politicians involved an opportunity to whip up their base using our taxpayer money as fuel.

Questions about gender selection are not included in this data. The political ploy suggesting that gender selection abortions are being done and can be identified by a survey is literally insulting to the intelligence of Oklahoma voters. Most people are smart enough to realize that the gender of the child cannot be determined before 18-20 weeks even with an ultrasound. The current Health Dept. data base shows that over 96% of abortions occur before that time period. Even after that time period, gender determination requires an ultrasound so most women seeking abortions wouldn't know the gender of the fetus beforehand in order to even consider aborting based on gender selection.

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James Nimmo is active in progressive issues and believes no one should be denied their equality because of the accidents of birth and circumstances.
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