State AG appeals court's ruling tossing abortion ultrasound bill
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Friday, June 22, 2012
6/22/12 at 7:06 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt on Thursday appealed a district court's determination that a controversial abortion ultrasound bill was unconstitutional.
In March, Oklahoma County District Judge Bryan C. Dixon tossed out House Bill 2780, which would have required any woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound within an hour of the procedure and have it explained to her before the procedure.
Dixon ruled that the measure was an unconstitutional special law because it "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."
Pruitt is asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to invalidate the decision.
"Understood in its most basic terms, the trial court - in error - ruled that the Oklahoma Constitution forbids legislation ensuring women receive meaningful medical information obtained through ultrasounds that the clinics are currently requiring," the filing said.
HB 2780 was passed in 2010, and lawmakers overrode then-Gov. Brad Henry's veto of the bill. The authors of the measure were Rep. Lisa Billy, R-Lindsay, and Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore.
Earlier this month, Pruitt appealed a lower court's decision to toss out another law, HB 1970, which would have put restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs.
Lawsuits seeking the invalidation of both laws were brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights, which works to advance reproductive freedom.
Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Supreme Court halted efforts to put to a vote of the people a proposed constitutional amendment that would say life begins at conception.
"This administration's utter hostility toward women's reproductive rights evidently knows no bounds," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. "Two Oklahoma district courts and the state Supreme Court have all made it abundantly clear in recent months that the right to reproductive choice is fundamental under the U.S. Constitution and the Oklahoma State Constitution alike.
"This redoubling of lawmakers' campaign of hostility toward women's health, rights and dignity is as much a waste of time and taxpayer money is it is an egregious example of governmental interference in the lives and private decisions of individual citizens."
She said she was confident that the lower court's ruling in the ultrasound case would be upheld.
Diane Clay, a spokeswoman for Pruitt, said that "the Attorney General's Office is committed to vigorously defending statutes that enhance and ensure that individuals who make consequential decisions are provided the necessary information for their decision-making process."
The statute is about being informed and educated, she said.
The Center for Reproductive Rights represented Reproductive Services in Tulsa 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.
Original Print Headline: AG appeals ultrasound ruling
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465
Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World