Oklahoma Ultrasound Abortion Law Ruled Unconstitutional

A judge in the state of Oklahoma struck down a state law requiring women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound image placed in front of them and to listen to a detailed description of the fetus before the procedure.
by | March 29, 2012
 

A judge in the state of Oklahoma on Wednesday struck down a state law requiring women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound image placed in front of them and to listen to a detailed description of the fetus before the procedure.

District Judge Bryan Dixon ruled the statute passed by the Legislature in 2010 is an unconstitutional special law because it addresses only patients, physicians and sonographers dealing with abortions and does not address them concerning other medical care.

Former Democratic Gov. Brad Henry had vetoed the bill after it passed the state's Republican-controlled Legislature, warning at the time that the measure likely would lead to a "potential futile legal battle." Republicans managed to override the veto with the help of several anti-abortion Democrats.

But enforcement has been blocked since May 2010 when the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York challenged the law on behalf of Nova Health Systems, operator of Reproductive Services of Tulsa, and Dr. Larry Burns, who the group said provides abortions in Norman.

A lawsuit filed by the abortion-rights group claimed the statute violated the principles of medical ethics by requiring physicians to provide unnecessary and unwanted services to patients and discounting a woman's ability to make decisions about her pregnancy.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said Dixon's decision reflects a backlash against state lawmakers who pass overreaching legislation she called hostile to women, their doctors and their rights.

"The court has resoundingly affirmed what should not be a matter of controversy at all — that women have both a fundamental right to make their own choices about their reproductive health, and that government has no place in their decisions," Northup said.

The author of the ultrasound statute, Republican Rep. Lisa Billy said she was disappointed with the ruling.

"I think women deserve to have all the information necessary before making that decision," Billy said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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