November 12, 2013 — The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Oklahoma's appeal to reinstate a state law (HB 2780) that would require women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion, Bloomberg reports. The decision comes a week after the high court refused to hear the state's appeal of a ruling that struck down restrictions on medication abortion (HB 1970) (Stohr, Bloomberg, 11/12).
The Supreme Court dismissed the latest appeal without comment (Casteel, The Oklahoman, 11/12).
Background on Ultrasound Law
Last year, the Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld rulings rejecting the ultrasound law, passed in 2010, that required doctors to perform an ultrasound and provide a detailed description of the fetus before a woman could receive an abortion. County District Judge Bryan Dixon in March 2012 ruled that the law was unconstitutional because it only applied to abortion and not to other medical procedures.
The state Supreme Court said that the statute violated the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which blocked legislation that imposes barriers to women seeking abortion care prior to viability (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/5/2012).
In appealing the case to the high court, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) argued that the ultrasound requirement was a legitimate effort to ensure that women do not regret their abortion decisions (Bloomberg, 11/12). The state also argued that the law did not impose a substantial burden on women seeking abortion and that the high court has previously upheld laws that require physicians to provide information to abortion patients.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which challenged the law on behalf of a state physician and abortion clinic, argued that the Oklahoma court had rightly struck down the law (The Oklahoman, 11/12). The law went beyond informed-consent statutes in other states, the plaintiffs said (Bloomberg, 11/12).
CRR President and CEO Nancy Northup said in a statement that the Supreme Court "has let stand another strong decision by the Oklahoma courts protecting a woman's constitutional right to make her own decisions about whether to continue a pregnancy from the intrusion of politicians opposed to her rights and indifferent to her health" (The Oklahoman, 11/12).