Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Oklahoma Law Overturned, But Bad News Ahead

I have a piece up over at The American Prospect on the Oklahoma anti-choice law that was overturned by a judge on Friday. While it's a victory, the news isn't all good:
On Friday, an Oklahoma judge ruled against a state law that was poised to, among other things, force women obtaining an abortion to disclose a substantial amount of personal information that would be posted on a public Web site. The privacy violation was enough to enrage many pro-choice bloggers; Lynn Harris wrote on Salon's Broadsheet, "The requirement … would scare the shit out of me." But the law also sought to ban the use of the word abortion or related words in Oklahoma code and impose a ban on sex-selective abortion. The law's defeat is a victory for reproductive-rights activists in Oklahoma, of which there are few.

But perhaps what's interesting about Oklahoma is not the outcome of this particular case, but the way the case was argued. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which brought the suit, avoided the traditional argument that it was a violation of privacy. Instead, the CRR argued that the law was unconstitutional because it packed too much into one law. The Oklahoma Constitution includes what is called the single-subject rule, which says laws can't combine various things into one piece of legislation.

It's no accident that the CRR chose the single-subject rule as its chief (and only) argument. "It was a purely strategic decision. We felt that we had such a strong claim on the single-subject-rule grounds that we were going to try to knock the law down on those grounds," says Jennifer Mondino, lead attorney for the CRR on this case.

Go on and read the whole thing.

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