U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Review Unconstitutional Oklahoma Law Forcing Narrated Ultrasounds on Women Seeking Abortion

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Law imposing required ultrasounds on women to remain permanently struck down as a violating the constitutional rights of women and their health care providers
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(PRESS RELEASE) Just a little over a week after the U.S Supreme Court dismissed Oklahoma state officials’ effort to enforce an unconstitutional law banning medication abortion, the nation’s highest court today declined to review a law permanently blocked by the Oklahoma Supreme Court that would have forced women seeking to end a pregnancy to undergo a narrated ultrasound exam before being allowed to complete the procedure.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“A woman’s personal, private medical decisions should be made in consultation with the health care professionals she trusts, without interference by politicians who presume to know better.

“Today the U.S. 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.

“This decision is another victory for women and reproductive health care providers, and another clear message to lawmakers across the U.S. that attacks on women’s health, rights, and dignity are patently unconstitutional and will not be allowed to stand.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a legal challenge in April 2010 to block the Oklahoma law that would have forced every woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound, have the image placed in front of her, and hear a state-mandated script—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 May 2010 and then a permanent injunction in March 2012. The Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling in December 2012.

The Center filed its legal challenge on behalf of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, a non-profit membership organization dedicated to ensuring the availability of the full range of reproductive health care services to women throughout the state, Dr. Larry Burns, and Nova Health Systems, a non-profit reproductive health care facility located in Tulsa.