Oklahoma's new Abortion Law...

[deleted account] ( 92 moms have responded )

Women became emotional and some cried after being shown fetal ultrasound images at a Tulsa abortion clinic Wednesday, a day after Oklahoma enacted what has been called the nation’s most restrictive abortion law.

None of the women, however, decided against terminating their pregnancies, said Linda Meek, the executive director of Reproductive Services in Tulsa.

Lawmakers on Tuesday overrode Gov. Brad Henry’s veto of a bill to require all women terminating a pregnancy to undergo a fetal ultrasound image an hour before an abortion is performed.

A New York reproductive rights group has filed a lawsuit challenging the law and asking a judge to halt enforcement of the law until the litigation is resolved.

A hearing in the case is set for Monday in an Oklahoma County District Court.

At the Tulsa clinic, which also offers birth control services and has an adoption agency on site, employees began complying with the new law Tuesday. Doctors who don’t comply with the law could face fines up to $100,000 or prosecution.

"We weren’t sure when they would vote, and we were pretty sure it would go through. We complied all day yesterday,” Meek said.

Ultrasounds are performed on women seeking abortions at the Tulsa clinic, Meek said.

The imaging is used to determine the gestational age of a fetus and to make sure the woman does not have a tubal pregnancy.

The law allows women to avert their eyes.

At the clinic, the image was placed in the woman’s line of sight and she is given a description of the fetal development to include presence of organs, limbs and cardiac function.

Some women closed their eyes and turned their heads away, Meek said.

"The doctors are just telling them this is a new law that we have to give them a detailed description, and we apologize for that,” she said.

The staff is required to record the time, and the women must sign a certificate that says they were properly shown the image. That form goes in their medical chart.

"It’s like they don’t think women have given serious thought and consideration before they walk through our doors,” Meek said.

Strictest in country

An existing law requires women to receive counseling and wait 24 hours before having an abortion. In Oklahoma, there are three clinics licensed by the state Health Department to perform abortions.

Two of the three clinics are challenging the new ultrasound law.

In 2009, 6,974 abortions were performed in Oklahoma, according to preliminary figures from the Health Department. That’s an increase of 850 from the 2008 figures.

Proponents of the new law say its aim is to make sure women have "full and complete information prior to the irrevocable act of abortion of an unborn child,” said Tony Lauinger, chairman of Oklahomans for Life.

Oklahoma’s ultrasound law is the nation’s strictest abortion ultrasound law, said Stephanie Toti, attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is challenging it.

At least a dozen other states have abortion ultrasound laws, but none of the laws mandate that a woman must be shown the image like Oklahoma’s law, said Toti, who is also representing the clinics in the legal challenge.

"It’s very difficult to force them to do it,” Toti said.

"The law says they have to place the image in the patient’s view. It’s humiliation for the patient to have to cover her eyes. The physician has to describe what is being shown. It’s really destructive to the physician-patient relationship, when they have to show you an image you don’t want to see and describe the image even though you’ve told them you don’t want to hear it.

"That kind of disregard for a patient’s choices violates principles of medical ethics.”

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92 Comments

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Rosie - posted on 06/18/2010

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first i would like to say that i am not religous, nor do i sway to the right (shutters), but seriously i just don't understand why this is so bad.

i know for me i couldn't do abortion or adoption, i chose to keep my unplanned baby (which came with a whole other set of emotional turmoil). i guess for ME, the most emotionally draining, horrible, torcherous (sp?) situation of all of those would be to kill a child that could've lived, could've made someone else happy, or even surprisingly made me happy, and have to live with knowing that for the rest of my life.

sure the child could've been placed in a horrible adoptive situation and if i were to do adoption i would always wonder about that was well, i'd always ask myself if i did the right thing. but i just don't see that situation being as emotionally damaging than permanently taking the opportunity to maybe possibly be happy away from the child, and myself.

once again i feel that the womans choice is always first and foremost of importance, but i feel there are ALOT of women out there who aren't thoroughly thinking out their choices. my experience with 2 of the 3 people i know who have had abortions regretting it has led me to make this decision. maybe if i had known more people that hadn't regretted what they did my opinion might be different-who knows. but it is what it is, lol!

Joanna - posted on 06/18/2010

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For everyone talking adoption... it really IS a wonderful thing, but coming from a birthmother who gave her child up for adoption instead of having an abortion, it is a tough thing to live with - carrying a child to term and then parting with it. Sure, the child is alive and happy, but the mother will still have a lot of emotional turmoil to deal with.

Sarah - posted on 06/18/2010

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Obviously, quite a few people need to educate themselves regarding the laws of abortion in their area. As far as I'm aware, ALL states require an ultrasound to verify gestational age, bt they don't require the woman to view it. The idea that so many seem to think that getting an abortion is like going to the drive-thu carwash is absurd! It's a medical procedure like any other, so obviously consent and understanding is required. Of course some places are better than others, all doctors are not created equally.
Or is it that we're assuming that all women who would choose abortion are to stupid to know what pregnancy means? Because the unwashed masses clearly need a visual representation in order to understand. In which case a big ThankYou to the religious right for helping the poor little dumb girls. *eye roll*
Also, I suggest you educate yourselves regarding the realities of your state's foster program- personally,I wouldn't send my dog to foster care, the statistics showing the abysmal failure of foster care are across the board and show children who grow up there turn into criminals at worst and failures at best. The overpopulation of children in foster care is the reason so many fall between the cracks.
I'm not even touching the reasons a woman chooses to abort because I could go on forever. But, I guess no one really cares about that anyway, as long as a child is born, who cares?
As a side note, if all the pro-lifers are so convinced that every pregnancy should result in a child, maybe they should put their money where their mouths are and start adopting???

Jessica - posted on 06/18/2010

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In a perfect world yes, women who werent ready for a child would still carry to term and the child would go to a happy loving family and we could all sing a happy little song. The reality of the world we live is that there are not that many happy endings like that, some, but not alot. More and more kids end up in the system or dead. Reality bites, but putting blinders on to ease a conscience doesnt help either.

Ashley - posted on 06/18/2010

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Ugh, I HATE this law. When I had mine, the screen was away from me and the tech asked if I wanted to see it. I knew what I was aborting. A seven week old embryo looks nothing like a baby.
I would think that most women who go for an abortion know that they are aborting a human, not a puppy or anything. There was info given about development automatically, but I knew what it looked like.
At Planned Parenthood, you have to speak with a counselor before the procedure/pill. We talked about all options, but I wanted an abortion.
I do not regret it. What I regret is being in the situation where it was best.
I told my husband I am not moving to Oklahoma because of this, or Utah because of their miscarriage law. We'll see how many states I'll cross off my list!

Jenny - posted on 06/18/2010

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Those poor women, that is so cruel. I wonder how many suicides will result from this. Throwing this at a woman already in a fragile state could easily be her death sentance.

Why doesn't the family that wants a baby adopt one of the millions of children already requiring homes? There is no shortage of kids needing homes and we certainly don't need to stockpile anymore.

[deleted account]

No it doesn't. A baby born to a mother that doesn't want it means that baby can go to a family that does want it.

*Lisa* - posted on 06/18/2010

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I just watched a little documentary on adoption tonight. A 16 year old girl gave her baby to a loving couple who couldn't have children and she said she felt 'at peace with her decision'. A much better outcome than possible years of guilt for aborting, or years of regretting having the baby because it made life too hard. That girl is now excited about her future and wants to study then start a family later on in life.
If a woman feels so horrible while a doctor is describing the ultrasound, then is she really at peace with her decision to abort? Isn't it better for her to realise at that point that she may have another option??

Rosie - posted on 06/18/2010

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keeping it isn't always going to be the answer.
i really wonder what the statistics are for women who were to have an abortion and then saw the ultrasound and decided not to abort and THEN decided on adoption and not to keep it.

i feel if i didn't want a baby and was going to get an abortion, and saw that it was a living being with a heartbeat and changed my mind on abortion i don't think it would magically make me want to raise it, i think adoption would pop up next in my head. maybe that is just me, i don't know, but that seems like the logical next step to me.

Brittney - posted on 06/18/2010

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I'm kind of suprised no one has brought up the possibility of if becasue of this law the mom decides not to abort and instead decides to put her baby up for adoption. Wouldn't that be another positive of the law?? I mean you see all over tv now how easy it is to place a child up for adoption especially open adoptions. Every one keeps looking at oh it's horrible and cruel and what not but really I think like what was said earlier, if one child's life is saved it's worth it. And Jessica I know someone that couldn't go thru with the abortion and instead kept drinking and doing drugs thru her pregnancy, hoping she would miscarry instead. Now her daughter has a hole in her heart because of it all and will need surgery. Ya it's unfair to that child that her mother didn't want her at the time, but now she loves that little girl to death and works her ass off to keep her safe. So not everyone that gets talked out of an abortion and has the baby the baby "suffers"

Jessica - posted on 06/18/2010

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Not nessesarily Shannon, it just means a baby born into a world where its mother didnt want it....and it may still end up dead except now it will suffer, seems a fate more cruel...

[deleted account]

Thanks for the info Gilian =] You don't really get much info on the subject other than where you can get them. I think that if they've made the decisiont o abort their baby they don't need the extra stress and guilt of having to know all the details.

[deleted account]

I think that if guilt is the only thing making her keep the pregnancy, then great. It worked. One less dead baby.

Lady - posted on 06/18/2010

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I believe that most places already do a scan to see what the gestational age of the baby to check exactly what type of abortion can be offered and to check the women is not too far along - I think the new law that is in question is the one were they are forcing women to see the picture and hear about the developement of the fetus - which I feel is totally wrong.

[deleted account]

I think there's pros and cons to this law. The scan means that they can check to see how far on the baby is as over here in the UK abortions cannot be done beyond 28 weeks and at this present moment there is no way that doctors can check the gestational age of the foetus. The cons are that for a start it would cost loads of money to implement and the woman may change her mind for the wrong reasons. I don't agree with abortion unless for medical reasons and since the woman doesn't actually have to look at the scan I'm not for or against it.

Rosie - posted on 06/17/2010

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i would think that the act of the abortion itself would be more psychologically damaging than looking at an ultrasound. and if you already know what you are doing for sure and have informed yourself, that's great. my best friend is VERY confident that she made the right decision to abort, and i support her and believe she did just fine without having to be told what she was aborting-it wouldn't of changed her mind.

there are those people out there i am positive of that, however i am also very positive (ok at least in my experience) that there are MORE people out there that aren't as sure that what they did was the best thing, in fact they are haunted everyday with what they did. that's WAAAY more torchourous and psychologically damaging to me to sit there and envision what your child would've been like every day knowing damn well you killed it without properly thinking it through.

and once again i am pro-choice, maybe i should say i'm pro- thoroughly thought out choice.

*Lisa* - posted on 06/17/2010

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Well Sarah C, I'm not saying it will change anyone's mind, and you said that you've not regretted your decision, and that's your experience. But there are women who have said that if they had known how advanced the baby was, they wouldn't have gone through with it. I think that's reason enough for doctors to explain thoroughly so no one can say 'I wasn't informed'. It's not to shame the woman at all, but to make sure that she understands.

Lady - posted on 06/17/2010

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I think it's silly to say that if it saves one women from making the wrong decission then it's worth it - how many women would it psychologically damage to have to see the image of the baby they had already decided that they could not keep - the women who are unsure and may be swayed by an utlrasound should not be having abortions in the first place until they have at least had councilling or talked to somebody - I think the amount of women it would harm would very significantly outway the number of women it would help anf I think there are much better ways of helpping than to subject women to such a torchurous ordeal!

Sarah - posted on 06/17/2010

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@Brittney.

Ok, so I had a look at some websites for the UK and what happens when you decide to have an abortion. So far as I can tell, it HAS to be agreed upon by 2 doctors. Women are offered advice from their GP and are given the option of counselling before and after the procedure.

As I said, I really don't think it's something that many women enter into lightly. The are given information, it's not forced upon them as this is.

Sarah - posted on 06/17/2010

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This is ridiculous! Ok, so the premise is that showing these images/listening to description will change the woman's mind. I've heard a lot of people say "i know someone who regrets having an abortion" (for the record, i know a lot of women who have had abortions myself included and none of us regret the final decision- i regret the decision ever had to be made) however, i know many, many women who had their child and regret the kid. oh, i know they always preface it with, "I love my child but I wish I had waited"- whatever, point is, they have regrets. Who doesn't? What gives anyone else the right to finger-point and try to change your mind? I am SO Sick of pro-lifers trying to shame, blame and guilt women out of their decision.
Yes, the woman should be informed it is a medical procedure, but there is no reason why the fetus should have to be described or seen. As for using ultrasounds to determine gestational age, they allready do that, however the ultrasound is turned away from the woman and the tech doesn't describe anything.
whatever, i can't talk about this anymore- i get too pissed. this is an issue that will always be a hot button for people on both sides of the fence- i just can't see how it's anyone else's business but the womans

*Lisa* - posted on 06/17/2010

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I also think it's a good thing. I know that it will cause pain for the women having the abortion, but if it can help even one woman as Brittney's friend, then it is worth it. As in all medical procedures, the doctors have to tell you in detail what they will be doing. This should be no different, especially since it is such a serious thing. Women should know exactly what state their baby is in, just in case.

Brittney - posted on 06/17/2010

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Sarah- state of florida, you walk in tell them you want an abortion they give you a pamplet of the baby's development and an appointment.
I know because my best friend has had 2. They were aslo supposed to completly put her to sleep before starting the abortion but didn't with her second. She was fully coherent and saw everything down to the jar her baby was in. She cried for days because at that point it had become real to her. She only had the abortions because she wasn't stable financially. I wish they had of shown her an ultrasound before the abortions. I know it would have changed her mind, because she had even said if she had of known her baby was like that she would have fought to keep it. The second pregnancy happened because of lack of birth control.
I don't fully agree with every aspect of the bill but do believe a woman should be shown what she has created before destroying it. No there is no reason for coucil before hand, but I do feel it should be offered after the fact. I do believe in certain situations (rap and what have you) that no an ultrasound should not have to be done before hand. I also believe birth control should be more resonably priced and more accesable to avoid excuses for abortions. Put the money and ease into prevening the pregnancy instead of getting rid of it is what I think they should have done instead. More information on birth control should be offered in school instead of primarily absinence and condoms.

Jessica - posted on 06/16/2010

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It is horrifying and draconic. The decision to have an abortion is an intensely personal, intensely difficult decision. This law is not based on a health need it is based on a moral stance. With respect to the many Faith's that do not support this choice, your religious beliefs should not be allowed effect my decisions about my body.
That being said, I believe that there are multiple other options that do not include abortion beginning with, yes, education and abstinence followed by birth control including the morning after pill.

Charlene - posted on 06/16/2010

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Exactly Jessica. It's GUILTING a woman into keeping an UNWANTED pregnancy. Disgusting.
Of course an ultrasound is needed to determine that the woman is not too far along, but making the ultrasound be in her view and FORCING her to listen to the description? That, in my opinion, is borderline (mental) torture. Having an abortion, I'm sure, is tough enough emotionally and mentally, (for the majority of people at least) without being made to feel guilty about their decision. Just purely disgusting to me.

Jessica - posted on 06/15/2010

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Sounds more like a "we will guilt you into keeping the baby if we can" as opposed to "we want you to be informed..'

Corena - posted on 06/15/2010

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I think the law is a good thing. I am not sure about the "describing" part though.

[deleted account]

I'm on the fence with this one too.
I think that if a woman is using abortion as her form as birth control (for example she has had 2-3) then I think something like this should be done.

Sarah - posted on 06/15/2010

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Never having had an abortion, I don't know exactly what happens when you ask to have one. However, I would assume that it's not just walk into your doctors or a health clinic and they say "Ok, here's your appointment". I would imagine that things ARE explained to them, that it's not a decision that the woman or the doctor will take lightly.

To subject them to an ultrasound, just seems unnecessary.

Zoe - posted on 06/15/2010

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i agree with shannon alot of women have abortions and dont believe there is a baby in there just abunch of cells. i know someone who went for an abortion and couldn't go through with it and she wouldn't be without her child now. i think women need to be more informed of what could happen if things went wrong. also i think they need counselling before and after abortion if thats what they choose. also to prevent it coming to abortion there should be more info on contraception. maybe the government need to focus on giving women more info on how to prevent it getting this far.

Brandy - posted on 06/14/2010

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Wow, 6,974 in one state in one year... I'm on the fence about the whole abortion topic still so I don't have much to say on this topic yet but wow, that's a big number.

Joanna - posted on 06/14/2010

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I think that having the ultrasound is a good idea, especially when laws for abortions go by gestational age... why not do them just to be sure of the baby's age before termination? However I don't agree with making the women listen to the doctors describe the baby during the ultrasound. If the woman doesn't want to see it, closing her eyes is fine, but she can't really shut her ears. I think a better law would be to give the women a file with the information after the ultrasound, and if she chooses to see it, then fine, but don't make her listen to it - it's tough enough as is. I also think waiting 24 hours and possible counseling could be a great idea.

[deleted account]

Didn't they ever stop to think that the possible reason for an increase in abortions from 2008 to 2009 was because of the lovely state the economy continues to be in??? There's a whole lot of people who get pregnant and $$$ is the first thing that pops up, how the hell am I going to pay for this??? IDK. I remember learning about different stages of the fetus in sex ed...maybe if we would drop the stupid abstinence only education plan and go for a more comprehensive sex ed class we would have less abortions to worry about from the get go!

Sherri - posted on 06/14/2010

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That is so wrong on so many levels. They are forcing this woman to be punished and possibly to cause total mental break downs. Do force an ultra sound fine but to force it to be in view of the woman and announcing everything the are seeing. SCREW THEM. What A holes!!!

Rosie - posted on 06/14/2010

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i'm pro choice and i actually agree with this part of the law. i know 3 women who have had abortions 2 of them regretted it. if this saves just one woman from having to go through the heartache that my friends have had then i feel it's worth it.

when you get an abortion you HAVE to have an ultrasound so it's not like they are forcing anything new on anybody with that part. desscribing the heart and such may make it more real to someone who didn't see it that way before.

Dehra - posted on 06/14/2010

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i feel it is wrong and a womens body is their own and it not the governments right to force women in to doing what they think is right for them

Meghan - posted on 06/14/2010

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being forced to have an ultra sound NO. Having to go through councilling or talk to a mental health professional YES. What about in situations like incest or rape?? OR an accidental pregnancy where the woman really doesn't want to have the abortion but can't financially or mentally/phsyically have the child?? Do you really think it is appropriate or condusive to "force" a woman to go through this when they have already been through enough or already feel guilt?

Suzette - posted on 06/14/2010

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I agree with Gillian. Not only is it destroying the patient/doctor relationship, along with medical ethics, the woman is already going through psychological damage. This is going to cause even more psychological damage to a woman who has had to make such a horribly difficult decision. I can't believe there are people in this world that would want a law like this to exist. It's seriously disturbing.

[deleted account]

How do they know that wont have long lasting possibly mentally damaging affects on the woman accruing the abortion...it said in the article that none of the women changed their minds even after having to see and hear the spheal. That would have to be damaging in some way to a woman's emotions...and if just the abortion didn't scar her for life that in my mind most certainly would. Bad idea...If they have to do something like that then show them a recorded video of a child of similar gestation and sex and go through it with them.

[deleted account]

I don't know. There are women who have abortions and stick to their decisions. Then there are women who have abortions and regret it for the rest of their lives. Maybe the women who would've regretted it will decide not to do it.

Lady - posted on 06/14/2010

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I think this is disgusting - it's totally violating the womens rights and destroying any relationship she may have with her doctor. Like it said no women changed their minds - I doubt any women who has gone to the point of going to the clinic - dreading the horrible possibilty that she may face disgusting protesters outside - will be well aware of the fact of just how the formed the fetus inside her is - this is just going to put women off going and lead to unwanted babies and distroyed women. I hope that they get rid of the law very soon and never introduce it anywhere else - any one with an ounce of decency wouldn't make a women go through this!!!!

[deleted account]

HOORAY!!!! I'm thrilled that that law is in place. I think it should be a law everywhere. There are a lot of woman out there getting abortions without even realizing that their babies are babies yet. Just thinking that it's some "tissue" or "matter". This insures that the woman sees what they are about to do. I bet more woman will change their minds after actually seeing their babies on screen... :-)

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