Oklahoma Supreme Court Finds Abortion Law Unconstitutional, Upholds State District Court Decision

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Today, the Oklahoma Supreme Court affirmed a decision by State District Court Judge Vicki Robertson, which declared unconstitutional a law that would have imposed a host of restrictions on the provision of reproductive healthcare in the State.  One of the restrictions would have prohibited a woman from getting an abortion unless she first had an ultrasound and listened to her doctor describe the image in detail, even if she objected. Another would have prevented women from suing their obstetricians for intentionally withholding information about problems with their pregnancies, potentially blocking access to important information for women and families.  In addition, the law would have restricted the availability of abortions performed with the medical abortion pill, leaving some women with surgery as their only option. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the law “facially, patently, and obviously contained multiple subjects,” thereby violating the Oklahoma Constitution’s “single-subject rule.” The decision comes as the Oklahoma legislature is considering a number of similar measures, including an ultrasound requirement passed by the House yesterday.

In its decision, the Court expressed frustration with the Oklahoma legislature for continually passing laws that violate the State Constitution:  “We are growing weary of admonishing the Legislature for so flagrantly violating the terms of the Oklahoma Constitution.  It is a waste of time for the Legislature and the Court, and a waste of the taxpayer’s money.”  

"Today’s ruling is a victory not only for the women of Oklahoma, but for the rule of the law,” said Stephanie Toti, staff attorney in the U.S. Legal Program of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “It is our sincere hope that the Legislature will heed the Court’s admonition and stop wasting its time and taxpayers’ money enacting unconstitutional restrictions on women’s access to reproductive healthcare services.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed Nova Health Systems d/b/a Reproductive Services v. Drew Edmondson in the District Court of Oklahoma County in October of 2008 on behalf of Reproductive Services, a nonprofit medical clinic located in Tulsa. Last month, an Oklahoma County District Court declared unconstitutional another State law that would have imposed various abortion restrictions in the State for violating the Constitution’s “single-subject” rule.