Disregarding Constitution and Three Courts, Oklahoma Attorney General Continues Assault on Women's Fundamental Rights

Subhead
State Attorney General appeals district court ruling that permanently blocked intrusive and demeaning mandatory ultrasound law
Primary Content

(PRESS RELEASE) The Oklahoma Attorney General continued anti-choice lawmakers’ assault on women’s rights and health today by appealing a lower court’s March decision to permanently block a 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.
 
Today’s appeal comes less than two weeks after the state appealed another district judge’s ruling last month striking down a state law that would have forced women seeking abortions and treatment for ectopic pregnancies to use outdated and inferior medication regimens.  The Center for Reproductive Rights challenged the two extreme laws on behalf of Oklahoma reproductive health care providers.
 
Both appeals were filed with the Oklahoma State Supreme Court, which recently rejected a radical anti-choice ballot initiative to define a fertilized egg as a person—citing the measure as “clearly unconstitutional.”
 
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
 
“This administration’s utter hostility toward women’s reproductive rights evidently knows no bounds.
 
“Two Oklahoma district courts and the state Supreme Court have all made it abundantly clear in recent months that the right to reproductive choice is fundamental under the U.S. Constitution and the Oklahoma State Constitution alike.
 
“This redoubling of lawmakers\' campaign of hostility toward women's health, rights, and dignity is as much a waste of time and taxpayer money as it is an egregious example of governmental interference in the lives and private decisions of individual citizens.”
 
“We are confident that the Oklahoma Supreme Court will once again find that women’s reproductive rights are fundamental constitutional rights, and affirm the sound decisions rendered at the district court level.”
 
The Center for Reproductive Rights filed Nova Health Systems v. Pruitt with the District Court of Oklahoma County in April 2010 on behalf of Nova Health Systems and Dr. Larry Burns, two of the three abortion providers in the state.  The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice also joined the case as a plaintiff.
 
The lawsuit argued 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 May 2010 and ultimately ruled the law as unconstitutional in March 2012. In striking down the law, the court found that it was “improperly addressed only to patients, physicians and sonographers concerning abortions and does not address all patients, physicians and sonographers concerning other medical care where a general law could clearly be made applicable.”
 
The Center for Reproductive Rights represented the plaintiffs in this case along with co-counsel from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton &amp, Garrison, LLP, in New York, NY, and the Hardwick Law Office in Tulsa, OK.