May 10, 2012 — Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) on Tuesday signed into law a bill (HB 2561) permitting lawsuits against abortion providers -- including any doctor who prescribes medication abortion drugs -- who do not follow the state's voluntary and informed consent laws, The Oklahoman reports. The law takes effect Sept. 1 (McNutt, The Oklahoman, 5/9).
The governor's action comes after the House last week unanimously approved the bill.
Under the legislation, lawsuits will be permitted if providers do not abide by a state law that requires women to undergo an ultrasound and fetal heartbeat monitoring prior to abortion care. The bill also would apply if a provider violates a state law that requires notification of a minor's parents 48 hours before abortion care. Suits also could be filed because of complications related to an abortion (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/4).
Physicians who refer a woman who has a problem pregnancy to an abortion provider would not be subject to lawsuits (The Oklahoman, 5/9).
The women, or the parents or guardians of a minor, have two years from the time of the abortion procedure to file a suit. The suits could seek actual and punitive damages equal to those for the wrongful death of a child, including damages for mental anguish and emotional distress (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/4).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.