Oklahoma Supreme Court strikes down two pro-life laws

By Dave Andrusko

In two brief, three-page-long decisions, the Oklahoma Supreme Court Tuesday upheld lower court decisions striking down two pro-life laws.

The 2010 Oklahoma Ultrasound Act requires that an ultrasound be performed before an abortion is done, that the abortionist positions the ultrasound screen at an angle so that the mother can view the images, if she chooses, and that an oral explanation of the images be provided as part of the informed-consent process.  That law was struck down in March by District Judge Bryan Dixon.

Americans Victims of Abortion, an outreach of National Right to Life,  intervened to assist in defending this reasonable law.

The second law, enacted in 2011, requires abortionists to provide abortion-inducing drugs in accordance with procedures tested and authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and barred any off-label uses of abortion drugs. District Judge Donald Worthington struck this law down in May.

Both laws passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support.

The Associated Press reported that State Attorney General Scott Pruitt, whose office appealed lower-court decisions invalidating the laws, “said he is considering appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Oddly enough the opinions both say the decisions reached by the state Supreme Court are controlled by the United States Supreme Court’s 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision. Yet Casey made clear that as long as states did not ban abortions, states had a much wider latitude in regulating the practice of abortions.

Asked about the ultrasound requirement, Mary Spaulding Balch, JD, director of National Right to Life’s Department of State Legislation, told NRL News Today, “The state Supreme Court is simply wrong. The state is well within its rights to ensure that mothers are fully informed prior to making this life or death decision.” She added, “Contrary to the implication of Judge Dixon’s opinion, abortion is not some ordinary ‘medical procedure.’ It is a procedure that takes the life of an innocent, unborn child.”

Balch also noted the irony of the Court’s invoking Casey. “The 2010 Oklahoma Ultrasound Act goes hand in glove with Casey,” she said. “It is a perfect example of a state responsibly exercising the authority authorized by the Supreme Court.”

If the ultrasound law is appealed, the question is whether the United States Supreme Court will hear it (grant certiorari). “We have a state supreme court in one circuit striking down an ultrasound law and an appeals court in another circuit upholding the ultrasound requirement,” Balch said. “We would very much like this issue to reach the High Court because we are convinced the justices will uphold such laws.”

Tony Lauinger, state chairman of Oklahomans For Life, reacted to the ultrasound decision:

“Because abortion is such an impersonal, assembly-line process where the physician-patient relationship is virtually non-existent, the state is justified in requiring that certain information be provided to a woman to enable her to make a truly informed decision,” he told NRL News Today. “Ignorance isn’t bliss, where life-or-death matters are concerned. And ignorance isn’t forever.

“Someday she’ll see an ultrasound – in a magazine, on television, on a friend’s refrigerator.  Better to see it before, rather than after, taking an irrevocable, lethal step.”

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