NPR logo Strict Oklahoma Abortion Measures Become Law

Strict Oklahoma Abortion Measures Become Law

The Oklahoma Senate voted Tuesday to override the governor's veto of two anti-abortion laws that are considered some of the strictest in the country.

One of the laws, which became effectively immediately, requires women to have an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before getting an abortion. The other prevents women from suing doctors who knowingly withhold information about the fetus, including whether there's a fetal abnormality. Supporters of that measure have said it is an attempt to keep pregnant women from discriminating against fetuses with disabilities.

The override votes in the Republican-controlled Senate came a day after the state House voted overwhelmingly to do the same.

Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, had said the measures were an unlawful intrusion into citizens' private lives and lacked exemptions for rape and incest victims.

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

Within hours of the Legislature's votes, the Center for Reproductive Rights, which successfully challenged a similar ultrasound law in 2008, announced it had filed a challenge in court. The New York-based abortion-rights group called the new law "the most extreme ultrasound law in the country," saying it is clearly unconstitutional and intrudes on a patient's privacy.

Henry has signed other measures on abortion including a law requiring clinics to post signs stating that a woman cannot be forced to have an abortion, saying an abortion will not be performed until the woman gives her voluntary consent and making abortions based on a fetus' gender illegal.

Lawmakers in other nearby states have also recently passed laws placing new restrictions on abortion. Nebraska's governor signed a measure that bans most abortions after 20 weeks based on the assumption that fetuses feel pain. The law is seen as a direct challenge to legalized abortion.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report

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