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Oklahoma judge upholds law banning common abortion procedure


An Oklahoma judge on Friday upheld a ban on a common second-trimester abortion procedure in what abortion rights proponents decried as a “rogue” decision that will threaten the reproductive rights of women throughout the state.

Oklahoma County District Judge Cindy Truong ruled from the bench following arguments over the ban approved by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law in 2015. The law would prevent the use of instruments used in dilation and evacuation procedures commonly performed in the second trimester. Supporters of the ban refer to the method as “dismemberment” abortions.

“It’s essentially a back-door ban on abortion itself,” said Julie Rikelman, director of litigation for the Center for Reproductive Rights, a New York-based abortion rights group that challenged Oklahoma’s law. “What it bans is the procedure that’s the standard of care for abortion after approximately 14 weeks.”

The law would ban the procedure except when necessary to save the woman’s life or prevent a serious health risk to her.

The law had been put on hold while the legal challenge was pending. The group says similar laws have been blocked from taking effect in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky and Texas.

Rikelman said her group plans to appeal the decision to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which has rejected several anti-abortion laws approved by the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature in recent years.

“We’re trying to evaluate all of the next steps we can take to keep the law (from taking effect),” Rikelman said.

Oklahoma’s Republican attorney general, Mike Hunter, praised the ruling.

“Dismemberment abortions are barbaric, brutal and subject unborn children to more cruelty than we allow for death row inmates,” Hunter said in a statement.

Of the roughly 5,000 abortions performed in Oklahoma in 2018, nearly 7% were performed using this method, according to Oklahoma State Department of Health statistics.

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