Oklahoma abortion law's future uncertain after ruling

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Daniel C. Houston
AP Writer

(AP) — A U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday striking down a Texas abortion law could have implications for a similar law in Oklahoma as abortion rights groups call for its dismissal.

Will Gattenby, a spokesman for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, did not say Monday whether Oklahoma would continue defending its law after the federal court ruled the Texas law unconstitutionally limited a woman's right to an abortion.

"The Attorney General's Office will be reviewing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision," Gattenby said. "This office is currently defending a challenge to a similar statute brought under state law."

The Oklahoma law, which hasn't taken effect because of a temporary injunction while it faces a challenge in the state's highest court, would only allow abortions to be performed if a physician with admitting privileges at a nearby hospital is present.

Oklahoma County District Judge Don Andrews had previously upheld the law, rejecting The Center for Reproductive Rights' argument that it was an unconstitutional special law meant to shut down abortion clinics. He said the law doesn't single out abortion providers or their patients and that the state "has a legitimate, constitutionally recognized interest in protecting women's health."

Andrews allowed the injunction to remain in place while the case was appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The Texas measure, like the Oklahoma law, required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. It also required clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery.

A Kansas-based abortion rights foundation that plans to open a clinic in Oklahoma City said Monday it was "elated" by the court's decision.

"This is a great day for women's rights and equality," Trust Women founder and CEO Julie Burkhart said in a statement. "This decision has a direct impact on the lives of women and their families."

The group is pushing for the Oklahoma Supreme Court to "set aside" the law in light of the federal court's decision.

Oklahoma U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, who are both Republicans, criticized the Supreme Court's ruling, saying the law protected women's health.

"States should be able to regulate abortion clinics the same as they do for any other medical facility that performs outpatient procedures," Inhofe said.