Make a gift today

Center for Reproductive Rights Asks Tenth Circuit to Rehear Oklahoma Abortion Law Case

Denver | Learn more

Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a petition with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, requesting that the court reconsider its recent ruling on an Oklahoma parental consent abortion law. According to the challenged law, abortion providers must require that minors seeking abortions inform their parents or obtain their consent or the doctors will be held financially liable for the minor’s follow-up care. This would be the case regardless of the quality of doctor’s care.

Earlier this month, the appellate court issued a decision that did not address the constitutionality of the law, instead holding that it lacked jurisdiction to rule. The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the petition for a rehearing on behalf of Oklahoma clinic, Nova Health Systems, arguing that the plaintiff should be allowed to challenge the law because otherwise it would have a chilling effect on minors in Oklahoma.

"This law ignores countless young women in difficult family situations and potentially puts many of them in harm’s way. Some are victims of incest or abuse by their parents. Others don’t even have contact with a parent and are cared for by a relative or legal guardian," said Bebe Anderson, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights and lead counsel in the case.

"Before Oklahoma passed this law, we already strongly encouraged our young patients to consult with their parents before seeking abortions. But we also took into account that, in some cases, they don’t have that option," said Linda Meek, Executive Administrator of Nova Health Systems. The Tenth Circuit decision is not final, pending the court’s ruling on Nova’s petition.

Back in 2002, the U.S. District Court in Oklahoma struck the law down as unconstitutional primarily because it failed to include a medical emergency exception or the means for an adolescent to obtain a judicial bypass. The court also enjoined five state officials from enforcing the unconstitutional law. Four of those defendants appealed that decision and their appeal was the subject of the Tenth Circuit’s ruling. The Tenth Circuit stated that its decision did not affect the ruling against the fifth defendant – the head of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority – which prohibits him from enforcing the law because it is unconstitutional.

The plaintiff in Nova Health Systems, dba Reproductive Services v. Fogarty, et al. is represented by Bebe Anderson of the Center for Reproductive Rights and M.M. Hardwick of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Learn more about parental consent laws.

Cases: