High court rejects abortion laws
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
12/05/12 at 7:39 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Supreme Court tossed out two laws Tuesday that slapped restrictions on abortions.
The state's high court found that House Bill 2780 was unconstitutional, agreeing with an Oklahoma County District Court.
The measure 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.
All judges concurred, with the exception of Justice Noma Gurich, who recused herself.
The authors of the 2010 measure were Rep. Lisa Billy, R-Lindsay, and Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore.
Lawmakers overrode then-Gov. Brad Henry's veto of the bill.
The state's high court also found House Bill 1970, which put restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs, unconstitutional. The opinion was unanimous.
The authors of House Bill 1970 were Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, and Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City.
"I am disappointed," Treat said.
An appeals court in another jurisdiction had upheld a similar law passed in Ohio, he said.
"I just now read it," Treat said of the opinion released Tuesday.
"I know it is a very short opinion. I haven't had a chance to talk to legal counsel for the Attorney General's Office yet on what happened."
He said the measure was an important safeguard for women's health.
In both cases, the Oklahoma Supreme Court said the measures are unconstitutional based on a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutional right to have an abortion.
An Oklahoma County District Court found in May that the House Bill 1970 was "an unconstitutional law in violation of the fundamental rights of women to privacy and bodily integrity" guaranteed in the Oklahoma Constitution.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt had appealed both decisions to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Pruitt said his office disagrees with the decisions and is considering an appeal.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, based in New York City, represented the plaintiffs in both cases.
"We are thrilled the Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a sweeping rejection of the Oklahoma Legislature's attempt to restrict women's constitutional rights," said Michelle Movahed, a staff attorney with the center.
She said the Legislature could focus on a lot of other things that would pass constitutional muster, such as jobs and the economy.
Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Supreme Court halted efforts to put to a vote of the people a proposed constitutional amendment that would have said life begins at conception.
Original Print Headline: High court tosses two laws on abortion
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465