Oklahoma judge strikes down ultrasound law

[JURIST] An Oklahoma County judge struck down [order, PDF] on Wednesday a state law [HB 2780 text, RTF] requiring doctors to perform an ultrasound and describe a woman's fetus to her before she undergoes an abortion [JURIST news archive]. The Court held that the 2010 Ultrasound Act is unconstitutional and unenforceable under the Oklahoma Constitution. The court ultimately amended a temporary injunction issued in 2010 [JURIST report] to a permanent injunction, disallowing the enforcement of the Act. After the order was handed down, Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights [official website], the party challenging [petition, PDF] the law, praised the court's decision [press release]:

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. Today's decision adds to the growing momentum of a nationwide backlash against the overreaching of lawmakers hostile to women, their doctors, and their rights.
The lawsuit argued that the Act violates physicians' rights to equal protection of the law and freedom of speech, while discounting a woman's ability to make decisions about her pregnancy.

This decision comes at the heels of other state legislatures reviewing similar matters. Last month, the US District Court for the Western District of Texas [official website] ruled [order, PDF] that Texas can begin enforcing [JURIST report] a state law that requires women to have a sonogram before undergoing an abortion. Also last month, the Virginia Senate approved a bill [JURIST report] that would require women seeking abortions to have transabdominal ultrasounds before the procedure, and require a doctor to inform a woman of the gestational age and development of the fetus. In October, a judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina [official website] issued a preliminary injunction [JURIST report], blocking part of the state's abortion law that required a physician to perform an ultrasound and describe the images to the patient. In March 2010 the Supreme Court of Oklahoma [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that a state law [SB 1878 text, RFT] imposing broad restrictions on abortion, including the requirement of an ultrasound one hour prior to the procedure, violated that state's constitution.

 

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