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Oklahoma

Biased Counseling & Mandatory Delay

A woman may not obtain an abortion until at least 24 hours after the attending physician, the referring physician, or an agent of either physician tells her, in person or by telephone:  (1) the name of the physician who will provide the abortion; (2) the medical risks of the procedure; (3) the probable gestational age of the fetus; (4) the medical risks of carrying the pregnancy to term; and (5) the locations where the woman can obtain a free ultrasound.  In addition, at least 24 hours prior to the abortion, in person or by telephone, the woman must receive from the attending or referring physician or physician's agent, a state-mandated lecture that must include:  (1) that medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care; (2) that the "father" is liable for child support, even if the father offered to pay for the abortion; and (3) that she has the right to review state-prepared materials in printed form or on a state-sponsored website that describe the fetus, list agencies that offer alternatives to abortion, and if the fetus has reached a gestational age of 20 weeks, that the materials include information on fetal pain.   If the woman chooses to review the materials in printed form, they must be mailed to her by a method chosen by the woman.  The state-prepared materials must:  (1) provide a geographically indexed, comprehensive list of public and private agencies and services and their telephone numbers, including adoption agencies and the locations where the woman can obtain a free ultrasound, available to assist the woman through pregnancy, upon childbirth, and while the child is dependent, or include a 24-hour toll-free hotline to obtain such a list; (2) describe with pictures the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the "unborn child" at two-week gestational increments, including the possibility of survival; (3) describe the commonly employed procedures, the medical risks associated with each, the "possible detrimental psychological effects" of abortion and carrying a pregnancy to term, and the medical risks of carrying a pregnancy to term; and (4) state that after the fetus has reached a gestational age of 20 weeks, the fetus may feel pain, and anesthesia is often used after a gestational age of 20 weeks during prenatal surgery.

Except in the case of a medical emergency, for abortion services provided after 20 weeks, the physician must tell the woman that anesthesia is available to alleviate fetal pain.  With the consent of the woman, the physician shall then administer an anesthetic.

A lower federal court concluded that this law is not unconstitutional and, therefore, refused to issue an injunction barring its enforcement.  Nova Health Sys. v. Edmondson, 373 F. Supp. 2d 1234 (N.D. Okla. May 27, 2005).  An appellate court also denied the motion for injunction, leaving Oklahoma's biased-counseling and mandatory-delay law in effect.  Nova Health Sys. v. Edmondson, 373 F. Supp. 2d 1234 (10th Cir. July 20, 2005).

Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 63, §§ 1-738.1 and .4 (Enacted 2005); §§ 1-738.2, .3,, and .5 (Enacted 2005, Last Amended 2012); §§ 1-738.6 to .12 (Enacted 2006).


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