Conservative Index Add

Monday, May 27th, 2019Last Update: Tuesday, May 7th, 2019 11:03:32 AM

Oklahoma Abortion Center Opens and Court Strikes Down Abortion Regulation Law

By: Constitution Staff

While Oklahoma has earned a reputation as being one of 18 states that is considered hostile to the performance of abortions, the protection of the unborn had some recent setbacks in the state. The first new abortion facility to be licensed in the state since 1974 opened in Oklahoma City in September, and a Pro-life bill passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor last year was struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in October.

The new abortion facility is located in south Oklahoma City. Julie Burkhart, who operates the South Wind Women’s Center in Wichita, Kansas, said they felt like there was an opportunity to fill a need in this part of the state. When Outpatient Services for Women closed in 2014, Burkhart says Oklahoma City became the largest metropolitan area in the United States without an abortion facility. There are only two other abortion centers in the state, one in Tulsa and one in Norman.

The businesswoman once ran an abortion facility in Kansas for the late-term abortionist George Tiller who was long a target of anti-abortion activists. In the 1980s the facility was bombed, in 1993 he was shot, and in 2009 he was killed by an anti-abortion activist.

Burkhart purchased a former eye clinic at 1240 SW 44th Street in Oklahoma City and spent about $1 million to renovate and open the South Wind Women’s Center. She said their facility in Kansas had many patients from Oklahoma, and they expect to see patients from Texas at the Oklahoma facility because of the long wait for an abortion in that state. They hope serve about 1,500 to 2,000 clients at the Oklahoma center each year. The facility will perform abortions up to 21.6 weeks of pregnancy.

On October 4, the Oklahoma Supreme Court in an unanimous vote struck down a bill passed by the state legislature which placed a number of restrictions on abortion facilities. The state high court ruled that the measure was a violation of the state Constitution’s single-subject rule. The court decided the bill covered multiple subjects and also found that the bill placed “undue burdens on access to abortion under the guise of protecting the health of women.”

Senate Bill 642, authored by Sen. Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City) and Rep. Randy Grau (R-Edmond), passed 40-5 in the Senate and 70-5 in the House. It was signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin on June 4, 2015. Senate Bill 642 was passed in 2015 but did not go into effect pending a court decision. It encompassed four components regulating abortions: parental consent for minors, tissue preservation, inspection of clinics and legal liability of abortion providers. The measure would have made it a felony for a person to help a minor obtain an abortion without parental consent. It would have authorized the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) to create new protocols for statutory rape investigations and would have required abortion providers to preserve fetal tissue when an abortion was performed on someone under 14 years of age. It also would give authority to the state Board of Health to create new policies and procedures for licensing of abortion facilities.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights challenged the law on behalf of Dr. Larry Burns who operates the abortion facility in Norman. He has performed nearly half of Oklahoma’s abortions over the last few years. Nancy Northup, president and chief executive officer of the center, said in a press release: “This law was nothing but a cynical attack on women’s health and rights by unjustly targeting their trusted healthcare providers.” The group has challenged Oklahoma abortion laws eight times, and claims a 100 percent success rate in blocking the laws.

Justice Joseph Watt wrote the opinion for the nine-member court: “Although each section relates in some way to abortion, the broad sweep of each section does not cure the single subject defects in this bill. Although defendants urge that SB 642 does not constitute logrolling, we find the provisions are so unrelated that those voting on this bill were faced with a constitutionally prohibited all-or-nothing choice to ensure the passage of favorable legislation.”

State Sen. Treat issued the following statement after the Oklahoma Supreme Court issued its ruling: “The Oklahoma Supreme Court too often wields its power to strike down good legislation because a bill doesn’t suit the court’s political ideology. The Supreme Court takes a very different view of the single subject rule when it suits a cause they support; however, the court’s application of the single subject rule becomes remarkably strict when it comes to pro-life legislation. Most Oklahomans would agree this is an important piece of legislation that covers one single subject. This bill was intended to protect minors by collecting and maintaining evidence of the rape of a child so such evidence could be used to help convict sexual predators. Reasonable minds can agree this is a very worthy goal. The single subject provision was a noble attempt to protect the process. Unfortunately, the court has perverted its intent to force its ideology on Oklahomans.”

Other Stories From Fall 2016 Issue

The Federal Page for Fall 2016

Theodore King
Ratings, Ratings, RatingsFreedomWorks is an organization that promotes limited government and ra...

Repeal of Blaine Amendment is a Band-Aid Approach

Steve Byas
Quote: No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used,...

Giving Away Absolute Power For One Year

Jason Murphey
Many taxpayers believe the Legislature operates as described in American Government class. They...

Open the Governments Closed Doors

John Michener
Our Government has been stolen. You and I do not have representation at the Oklahoma Capitol, only...

Solving School Funding and Overcrowding Problems

Charlie Meadows
Solving School Funding and Overcrowding Problems...

Oklahomans (still) Support Parental Choice in Education

Brandon Dutcher
An honest reading of the public-opinion survey data over the past couple of years shows that...

Reconsidering the Elephants Cage

Andrew K. Boyle
Its election season, which in this writers experience means the worst of us is front page news. In...

Fall 2016 Letters to Editor

Constitution Staff
Too Much AnonymousOne of the things that serves to get my goat is the tendency of so many...

Fall 2016

Constitution Staff
State Auditor Being EvictedState Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones says his office was informe...

Governor Decides Against Special Legislative Session

Constitution Staff
Gov. Mary Fallin announced on September 1that she had decided not to call a special legislative...

Oklahoma Legislative Races

Constitution Staff
A large number of legislators were not able to run for reelection this year due to term-limits....

Statewide Races and Congressional Seats on Ballot

Constitution Staff
Oklahoma voters in presidential election years see what is known as the short ballot. In the...

Voters to Consider State Questions

Constitution Staff
Voters will find seven state questions on the November ballot. Three of the measures SQ 779, 780...

Pruitt Fails to Stop Internet Surrender

Constitution Staff
Federal Judge George Hanks of Galveston, Texas, an Obama appointee, denied a September 30 request by...

In The News

Constitution Staff

Medicaid Initiative Petition Filed
A filing was made at the Oklahoma Secretary of State office on April 19 for proposed State Question...

Constitution Staff

State Election Board Conducts Voter List Maintenance
The State Election Board completed its statutorily-mandated, biennial voter list maintenance on...

Constitution Staff

Bills Make Their Way Through Oklahoma Legislature
With the close of the legislative session approaching at the end of May, various bills are being...

Constitution Staff

Gov. Stitt Establishes Cabinet
On January 24, Gov. Kevin Stitt issued his first executive order since becoming governor. The...

Constitution Staff

Oklahoma Republicans Elect Leaders and Adopt Platform
On April 6, nearly 1,000 delegates attended the Oklahoma Republican State Convention held at the...

Constitution Columnists

Richard Engle

No More Mr. GOP
Many years ago when I was still young enough to be a Young Republican, I served as State Chair of...

John Michener

The Duty to Abolish Abortion: We are Without Excuse
The movement to abolish abortion has finally reached critical mass. Enough concerned and educated...

Tim Bakamjian

Stitts Strong Start
In his January 14th inaugural address, Governor Kevin Stitt outlined a clear set of goals for his...

© 2001 - 2009 The Oklahoma Constitution, all rights reserved.
Contact the Oklahoma Constitution by calling 405-366-1125 or emailing
Content Management System (CMS) provided by WebTeks CMS.