Oklahoma Ultrasound Law Blocked. How Soon Till SCOTUS Review?

A district judge gave a resounding dismissal of Oklahoma’s mandatory ultrasound law Wednesday and in doing so set the stage for possible Supreme Court intervention.

District Judge Brian Dixon ruled the law is unconstitutional and unenforceable because it relates only to patients and doctors dealing with abortions and no other medical care. Enforcement of the law had been blocked shortly after it was passed via veto-override in 2010. The law would have forced a woman seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound, then have the image placed in front of her and described in detail, even if she had objected.

“The court has resoundingly affirmed what should not be a matter of controversy at all—that women have both a fundamental right to make their own choices about their reproductive health, and that government has no place in their decisions,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Today’s decision adds to the growing momentum of a nationwide backlash against the overreaching of lawmakers hostile to women, their doctors, and their rights.”

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.

Then-Governor Brad Henry had vetoed the measure in large part because he did not want the state to incur the legal expenses associated with defending an obviously unconstitutional bill.

The ruling now sets the stage for an appellate battle. Oklahoma is in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has already affirmed a similar bill in Texas. A split in the circuits would all-but guarantee Supreme Court review, providing anti-choice advocates yet another opportunity to chip away at the guarantees of Roe v. Wade.

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Photo from steakpinball via flickr.


Sam Richardson

I'm glad to hear that at least the law is holding up sense, since the Republicans have abandoned it a long time ago. Good on the plaintiff's for challenging this ridiculous and misogynistic bill.

Sam Richardson

I'm glad to hear that at least the law is holding up sense, since the Republicans have abandoned it a long time ago. Good on the plaintiff's for challenging this ridiculous and misogynistic bill.

Tony C.
Tony C7 years ago

If more women don't realize that their rights are speedily being taken away by the narrow minded politicians and don't act by voting them out of office, there will come a day when they will ask themselves, what happened to my rights?? By that time it will be too late. The future of women who have to put up with all this bull of contraception, abortion and many others is leading them down the path to second class citizenship. Women have so much power but they don't realize it. If women went on strike in the kitchen and the bedroom I believe things would change quickly and for the better.

Allen Pierce
Allen Pierce7 years ago

Finally!! A judge somewhere in America with a Brain in His Head.

And even though the Governor vetoed the bill, he only did so to avoid having to pay to defend an obviously flawed law. Well, whatever works, I guess.

Ladies, You must stand up and make your voices heard! Support those politicians that support you, and dump the ones that don't. You have all of the support that I can bring to this fight, but you must make sure that your fathers, brothers, husbands, boyfriends and sons do so as well. If they won't, make um pay!

Cathryn C.
Cathryn C7 years ago

Kudos to this Judge for seeing that this is a burden on only one small portion of the population. Laws are supposed to affect everyone EQUALLY, male and female.

James Maynard
James Maynard7 years ago

These bills do nothing to improve the health of
women, they simply allow stupid old men to
practice bad medicine without a license.
Don't we jail people who do that?

John Mansky
John Mansky7 years ago


Glenn M.
Glenn Meyer7 years ago

Why attack these laws now while the Corpublicans have a strangle hold on SCOTUS?

Amanda M.
Amanda M7 years ago

These laws are blatantly unconstitutional, anti-woman, and just plain evil and should NEVER be allowed to pass! Unfortunately, the Rethuglican Religious Reich just can't get it through their thick skulls that their rights to follow their twisted religion stop where OUR rights to control what does and does not happen to OUR bodies starts!

pam w.
pam w7 years ago

Oh...they'll be back! The Republicanazis never quit....they go and hid under bridges....but they don't quit.