NRL News

Oklahoma will appeal decision striking down Ultrasound Law

by | Apr 3, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has announced that he will appeal Oklahoma County District Judge Bryan Dixon’s summary judgment striking down Oklahoma’s trailblazing 2010 ultrasound law.  

“We have an obligation to protect our citizens and make sure abortion is held to the same standard as any medically informed decision,” Pruitt said in a statement issued Friday.  “The law is about presenting abortion accurately with full information about the outcome.”

Diane Clay, a spokeswoman for Pruitt, told The Oklahoman that the AG’s office would appeal directly to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. It would be up to the state Supreme Court to determine whether to keep the case or refer it to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals.

“The state is well within its’ rights to ensure that mothers are fully informed prior to making this life or death decision,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, director of National Right to Life’s Department of State Legislation. “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 added, “I am very pleased to see this quick and decisive decision by the attorney general’s office.“

The 2010 Ultrasound Act requires that the abortionist positions the ultrasound screen at an angle so that the mother can view the images, if she chooses. The law also requires that the abortionist “provide[s] a medical description of the ultrasound images, which shall include the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity, if present and viewable, and the presence of external members and internal organs, if present and viewable.”

“Ultrasound is perhaps the best tool available for providing a mother with unbiased, scientifically accurate information about the real impact abortion will have on all concerned,” Balch observed

The effect of Dixon’s March 28 two-page decision is confined to the state of Oklahoma. A very similar ultrasound law passed by Texas was upheld in January by a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That affirmative ruling affects the entire circuit.

In under a hundred words, Dixon threw out a law supported overwhelmingly by the Oklahoma legislature, which override a veto by then-Gov. Brad Henry(D). In under one hundred words, Dixon concluded that the law is an unconstitutional “special law.”

Dixon wrote that the Ultrasound Act “improperly is addressed only to patients, physicians and sonographers concerning abortions and does not address all patients, physicians and sonographers concerning other medical care where a general law could clearly be made applicable.”

The day the decision came down Tony Lauinger, State Chairman of Oklahomans for Life and Executive Vice-President of the National Right to Life, told NRL News Today that “Attorneys who have looked at the opinion tell us that there are numerous examples in Oklahoma law of so called ‘special laws’ (as defined by this judge) that are currently in effect.”

He emphasized that “One thing overlooked is that almost all ‘abortion providers’ already do ultrasounds before abortions, so the law is not imposing an unnecessary procedure on women.” Abortionists used ultrasounds to date the age of the about-to-be aborted baby.

Balch explained that the law has been blocked since May 2010 when the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) challenged the law on behalf of Nova Health Systems, operator of Reproductive Services of Tulsa, and Dr. Larry Burns, who provides abortions in Norman, Oklahoma.

She also noted that as opposed to what the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights (which litigated the challenge) wrote in a press release, Judge Dixon ruled on the narrowest possible grounds—that the Ultrasound Act was purportedly a “special law”—choosing not to address any of the issues the CRR raised because (Dixon wrote) they were now “moot.”

Balch said that opponents want the world to think abortion is like any other procedure, no different from a tonsillectomy. “But ultrasound–the window to the mother’s womb–puts a bright light on that lie. It is a light they desperately want turned off.”

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Categories: Legislation