District Court Permanently Blocks Oklahoma Ultrasound Law, Expect A Supreme Court Battle

Posted on March 29, 2012

RH Reality Check, March 29, 2012 by Robin Marty

The 10th Circuit Federal Court has just issued a permanent injunction on a 2010 Oklahoma law that would require all women terminating their pregnancies to first undergo a mandatory ultrasound. The news, which is no doubt welcome to the women in and around Oklahoma who will no longer have to endure the added financial stress and emotional pressure of an unwanted, medically-unnecessary ultrasound, also sets up what is likely to be the next big battle — this time, before the Supreme Court.

With the 10th Circuit ruling that it “is an unconstitutional special law because it addresses only patients, physicians and sonographers dealing with abortions and does not address them concerning other medical care,” while the 5th Circuit rules that mandatory ultrasounds are constitutional in Texas, the only way to resolve the conflicting rulings is an appeal to the highest court.

Lawyer and reproductive rights author Jessica Mason Pieklo states:

“Today’s decision in Nova Health Systems v. Edmonson represents an important win for women and health care practitioners across the state of Oklahoma and affirms the right of women to make critical health care decisions without unnecessary and demeaning intrusion and oversight by the state.”

“However,” she warned, “it also represents yet another avenue for anti-abortion advocates to further chip away at the protections guaranteed by Roe v. Wade by pressing an appeal through the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.”

The Oklahoma case, which was argued by Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Nova Health Systems, has been in court since the bill was first passed by overriding a veto by Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry, who worried the bill was unconstitutional and would cost the state too much money to defend.

Posted in: Oklahoma