Oklahoma judge bucks trend, lets abortion ban stand

An Oklahoma judge on Friday kept in place a law banning one of the most common abortion procedures used in the second trimester, upending a nationwide trend.

Oklahoma County District Judge Cindy Truong let stand a state ban on dilation and extraction abortions, a common but controversial procedure typically used in pregnancies after 14 weeks.

Judge Truong issued her decision from the bench to uphold the 2015 law, known as the Oklahoma Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Tulsa Women’s Clinic, pointed out that every other state that has passed bans on such procedures have also seen courts block the bans.

The Oklahoma attorney general said the state had secured a “major win.”

“Dismemberment abortions are barbaric, brutal and subject unborn children to more cruelty that we allow for death row inmates,” said Attorney General Mike Hunter, in a statement. “It is unconscionable to think that we would allow this practice to continue.”

Attorneys for CRR said the decision was example of a judge “going rogue.”

“We cannot overstate the harm this decision will have on women in Oklahoma,” said Julie Rikelamn, attorney for CRR. “Politics should never take medical options off the table for pregnant patients.”

Dilation and extraction abortions — termed dismemberment abortions by critics — involve surgical utensils to remove uterine content. Abortion opponents criticize the procedure, saying it is violence against an unborn child.

Abortion rights supporters say the procedure is safe and commonly used for women with pregnancies at about 14 weeks of fetal development.

The law had previously been blocked in Oklahoma but will now go into effect. The Oklahoma Supreme Court has blocked various anti-abortion measures in the past few years, including in April when it blocked a law that restricted access to drug-induced abortions in a 7-1 decision.

The 2015 law had been signed by former Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. 

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a lower court’s blocking of a similar D&E ban in Alabama to stand.

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