Abortion roster is blocked

Women's medical information will not be posted online in Oklahoma -- for now

Topics: Abortion, Broadsheet,

Oklahomans who believe in a little thing called the “right to privacy” can breathe a big sigh of relief, for now. Late Friday, a judge extended a temporary restraining order against a bill that would publish online extensive details about women’s abortions. Now, enforcement of the law will be set aside until a February 19 hearing on its constitutionality, thanks to a lawsuit by the Center for Reproductive Rights. In a press release, staff attorney Jennifer Mondino said the organization is “very pleased with today’s ruling” because “women in Oklahoma should not have to jump through hoops to access legal medical care.”

The loathsome law, which we’ve written about before, requires women to fill out a highly personal 10-page questionnaire before they terminate a pregnancy. In particular, the cross-examination focuses on the reason for the woman’s decision to have an abortion. Answers are then posted anonymously on a state Web site that can be accessed by anyone — next-door neighbors, parents, friends, you name it. Despite the results showing up without a name or address attached, it’s still possible — especially in a small town — for women’s identities to be discovered. Even the most amateur of detectives could visit the site and put together the various puzzle pieces — age, marital status, race and approximate gestational age of the (note the bill’s wording here) “unborn child subject to abortion.”

The measure’s anti-abortion bent is clear, but proponent Sen. Todd Lamb insists it’s just a way to “collect hard data that can be a useful tool in helping prevent future unwanted pregnancies.” But, as Linda Meek, executive administrator of the Tulsa clinic Reproductive Services, brilliantly told NPR, “If they want to reduce the number of abortions, then they need to concentrate on educating women about preventing unwanted pregnancies, educating them about emergency contraception, birth control — and making birth control more accessible.” Yes, if only they were actually interested in education and prevention.

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

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