NRL News

Oklahoma AG appeals rulings striking down two pro-life laws to U.S. Supreme Court

by | Mar 27, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

OklahomaStateCapitolIn a long anticipated move, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed a petition Friday asking the United States Supreme Court to review a ruling that struck down a 2010 law requiring that an ultrasound be performed before a woman has an abortion.

In his petition, Pruitt said he filed a writ of certiorari because the state has “an obligation to protect our citizens and to make sure a life-altering abortion is held to the highest medical standards.”

Pruitt is also asking the High Court to review a second law, enacted in 2011. That law 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 2012.

The trailblazing 2010 Oklahoma Ultrasound Act (HB 2780) requires that the abortionist positions the ultrasound screen at an angle so that the mother can view the images, if she chooses, and that as part of the informed-consent process 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.”

That law was struck down in March 2012 by District Judge Bryan Dixon, a decision the state Supreme Court upheld last December.

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

“The state Supreme Court is simply wrong about HB 2780,” Mary Spaulding Balch, JD, director of National Right to Life’s Department of State Legislation, told NRL News Today. “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 the 1992 Casey decision. “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.”

The question remains whether the United States Supreme Court will hear the appeal (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.”

Categories: Legislation