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CRR asks Okla. Supreme Court to review challenge to TRAP law

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) on Thursday asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to review a lower court decision upholding a state law (SB 1848) that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Talley, AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/17).

Lawsuit over admitting privileges requirement

CRR filed a lawsuit against the statute on behalf of Larry Burns, an abortion provider who owns the Abortion Surgery Center in Norman, Oklahoma. According to the lawsuit, the law would force Burns to close the clinic because he has not been able to meet the admitting privileges requirement after applying at 16 hospitals. Burns performs about 44 percent of abortion procedures in the state.

In October 2014, Oklahoma County District Court Judge Bill Graves ruled the admitting privileges law could take effect. CRR appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court.

In November 2014, the Oklahoma Supreme Court temporarily blocked enforcement of the law, which had taken effect earlier that month. In a unanimous decision, the court wrote that the law would remain on hold until it is "fully and finally litigated." They noted that the decision was not an opinion on the legality of the law.

In July last year, District Judge Don Andrews said more information was needed to answer questions presented in the lawsuit, effectively leaving in place the injunction against the law until at least 2016. In February, Andrews ruled that the law is constitutional, although he said the state Supreme Court's temporary injunction would remain in place (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/12).

Multiple legal challenges

According to the AP/Bee, the lawsuit is one of several legal challenges CRR has filed against antiabortion-rights laws in the state over the last five years (AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/17).

The state's high court last month upheld one of the contested laws (HB 2684), which restricts the use of medication abortion. However, the state Supreme Court suggested the law could be struck down on other grounds (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/24). CRR also has appealed a lower court ruling upholding a third law (SB 642), which imposes multiple restrictions on abortion providers and patients, to the state Supreme Court (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/12).