Oklahoma Supreme Court Rules Two Anti-Abortion Rights Laws Unconstitutional
State’s highest court upholds lower court rulings blocking laws that effectively ban the abortion pill and impose intrusive ultrasounds on Oklahoma women
12.04.12 - (PRESS RELEASE) Today, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled against two unconstitutional anti-choice laws together—one designed to shame and demean women seeking an abortion by forcing them to view their ultrasound and another aimed at prohibiting the use of medication to terminate a pregnancy.
State district court judges previously blocked both laws as violations of the Oklahoma state constitution. In response, the state officials responsible for enforcing those laws appealed to the state's highest court.
"As the courts that have already heard these cases have resoundingly affirmed, a woman's right to a full range of reproductive health care is fundamental and constitutionally protected," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
We are pleased that the Oklahoma Supreme Court has upheld the decisions by the lower courts to affirm these rights as fully protected rights."
"Oklahoma has long been a testing ground for a national network of organizations hostile to women, doctors, and the rights of both, and these two laws are prime examples of politicians imposing their ideologies on women's personal medical decisions. But despite their best efforts to chip away at women's fundamental rights, the courts have consistently rejected these extreme assaults on reproductive freedom."
About Nova Health Systems v. Pruitt
The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a legal challenge in April 2010 to block a state law that would have forced every woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound, have the image placed in front of her, and hear it described in detail—even if she objected.
The lawsuit, filed in Oklahoma state court, argued that the statute violated the principles of medical ethics by requiring physicians to provide unnecessary and unwanted services to patients, while patronizingly discounting a woman's ability to make decisions about her pregnancy. A district court judge granted a temporary restraining order against the law in July 2010 and then a permanent injunction in March 2012.
Stephanie Toti, senior staff attorney at the Center, represents the plaintiffs along with co-counsel from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, in New York, NY; and the Hardwick Law Office in Tulsa, OK.
About Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice et al., v. Terry Cline, et al.
The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a legal challenge in October 2011 to block a state law that would have banned any off-label use of medications for abortion or treatment of ectopic pregnancy-while explicitly allowing off-label use of the same medication for other purposes.
According to the lawsuit filed in Oklahoma state court, the law not only jeopardizes women's health by preventing doctors from using safe and effective methods available, but also undermines women's ability to exercise the full range of their fundamental constitutionally protected reproductive rights.
The law was temporarily blocked in October 2011 and then permanently struck down by a district court judge in May 2012. The Center filed its legal challenge on behalf of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the availability of the full range of reproductive health care services to women throughout the state, and Nova Health Systems, a non-profit reproductive health care facility located in Tulsa.
Michelle Movahed, staff attorney at the Center, represents the plaintiffs in the case along with co-counsel attorneys Anne Zachritz in Oklahoma City, OK and Martha Hardwick in Tulsa, OK.