Legal sparring over privacy in Oklahoma abortion laws

A legal battle has arisen in Oklahoma over stringent new state abortion laws set to be passed at the start of November. The laws require extensive personal information to be posted to the Health Department’s website, raising privacy concerns for women seeking abortion.

The laws require a comprehensive extensive set of 37 details from women seeking abortions, including age, marital status, number of children, level of education and the relationship of the mother to the biological father. Personally identifiable information is not required for the questionnaire and the Health Department has been directed to prevent any personal information from appearing on the site.

Oklahoma is a small state. Abortion rights advocates say that it would not be difficult to identify the women, even if neither their names nor other personally identifiable information would be published.

A New York Times editorial described the law as “political”, and that “Its real aim is to persuade doctors to stop performing abortions by placing new burdens on their practice, to intimidate and shame women, and to stigmatize a legal medical procedure that one in three women have at some point in their lives.”

A temporary restraining order was passed this week by a district court judge, due to claims by opponents that the law was unconstitutional. A legal technicality led to the restraining order; in Oklahoma, disparate issues may not be addressed in a single bill. ~ Los Angeles Times Oct 21, AP Oct 26, New York Times Oct 25



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