Oklahoma Supreme Court Overturns Laws Restricting Reproductive Rights
Rulings represent 'a sweeping and unequivocal' win for women's health and pro-choice advocates
In a "sweeping and unequivocal" affirmation of women's reproductive rights, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that women do not have to view an ultrasound image of the fetus while hearing a description of the fetus before obtaining an abortion.
The court also said this week that lower courts were right to halt another law that banned off-label use of some abortion-inducing drugs, the Associated Press reports.
"Both laws are among the core of a strategy pursued by the anti-choice movement of passing model legislation in numerous states seeking to eliminate access to abortion care at the state level, and ultimately chipping further away at the access to safe abortion care ostensibly protected by Roe v. Wade," writes Jodi Jacobson, editor in chief of RH Reality Check.
All nine justices on the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the decision involving the drugs was unconstitutional, and eight of the nine agreed in the ultrasound decision.
The AP continues:
The Oklahoma court said it has a duty to “follow the mandate of the United State Supreme Court on matters of federal constitutional law."
The state had appealed lower court decisions that invalidated the laws. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said he may appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
With overwhelming support, the Oklahoma Legislature in 2010 passed a law requiring a woman seeking an abortion to first perform an ultrasound and describe the fetus to the woman. The Center for Reproductive Rights in New York challenged the law, as well as the second law—passed in 2011— banning off-label uses of abortion-inducing drugs including RU-486.
In March, a district court judge ruled the statute was an unconstitutional special law that could not be enforced because it addressed only patients, physicians and sonographers dealing with abortions without addressing other medical care, according to the AP.
In May, another district court judge said a law requiring doctors to follow strict guidelines for abortion-inducing drugs such as RU-486 violated "the fundamental rights of women to privacy and bodily integrity."
The rulings represent "a sweeping and unequivocal" rejection of the state Legislature's attempt to restrict reproductive rights, Michelle Movahed, a staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, told the AP.
The decisions ensured that "a woman's right to a full range of reproductive health care is fundamental and constitutionally protected," Nancy Northup, the center's president and CEO, wrote in a statement.
"Oklahoma has long been a testing ground for a national network of organizations hostile to women, doctors and the rights of both, and these two laws are prime examples of politicians imposing their ideologies on women's personal medical decisions. But despite their best effort to chip away at women's fundamental rights, the courts have consistently rejected these extreme assaults on reproductive freedom."