Judge Blocks Enforcement of OK Abortion Ultrasound Law

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(PRESS RELEASE) This morning a state judge ruled to block enforcement of Oklahoma's recently enacted abortion ultrasound requirement. The injunction will be in place until the case is resolved. The judge also set a pre-trial hearing date for January 21, 2011. 

The most extreme ultrasound restriction in the country, the law prohibits a woman from getting an abortion unless she first has an ultrasound, is shown the ultrasound image and listens to her doctor describe the image in detail.

"Today's ruling is a great victory for women in Oklahoma. The government has no business mandating to doctors how to practice medicine and intruding in women's private medical decisions," said Stephanie Toti, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "Politicians should leave health care to medical professionals and health decisions to individuals."

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a challenge to the law back in April on behalf of Oklahoma abortion providers Nova Health Systems (a.k.a. Reproductive Services) and Dr. Larry Burns. Reproductive Services and Dr. Burns are two of three providers in the state.

The Center argues that the ultrasound requirement profoundly intrudes upon a patient's privacy and forces a woman to hear information that she may not want to hear and that may not be relevant to her medical care. In addition, the law discounts her ability to make health decisions about her own life and interferes with the doctor-patient relationship-potentially damaging it-by compelling doctors to deliver unwanted speech.

The challenge is being heard before Judge Noma Gurich, the District Court of Oklahoma County.