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Oklahoma Rejected by Top Court on Ultrasound Abortion Law

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U.S. Abortion Cases
The U.S. Supreme Court is likely to act this year in two more abortion cases. The high court hasn’t ruled in an abortion case since 2007. Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court refused to revive an Oklahoma abortion law that would have required doctors to first perform an ultrasound, show it to the woman and describe what the image depicts.

Rejecting an appeal by state officials, the justices left intact an Oklahoma Supreme Court decision that invalidated the law as placing an unconstitutional burden on abortion rights.

The rebuff marks the second time this month that the high court has declined to reinstate Oklahoma abortion regulations. The justices earlier dropped a planned case over restrictions on drug-induced abortions after the Oklahoma Supreme Court said the state’s law would have outlawed all such procedures.

The rebuff is “another clear message to lawmakers across the U.S. that attacks on women’s health, rights and dignity are patently unconstitutional and will not be allowed to stand,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. That group sued to challenge the law on behalf of Nova Health Systems, an abortion provider.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt argued that the ultrasound requirement was a legitimate effort to ensure that a woman wouldn’t later regret her decision to have an abortion.

Pruitt said in a statement that a federal appeals court had upheld a similar ultrasound law in Texas.

“The unfortunate message sent by the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision in this case is that when it comes to abortion regulations, what is legal in other states is illegal in Oklahoma,” he said.

More Cases

Nova had urged the Supreme Court to reject the state’s appeal, saying the Oklahoma law went well beyond informed-consent statutes in other states.

The court is likely to act this year in two more abortion cases. In one, Planned Parenthood is seeking to block enforcement of a Texas law that requires all abortion providers to have local hospital admissions privileges.

In the other, Arizona is asking the court to reinstate a law that would ban abortion at 20 weeks or later in pregnancy. The high court hasn’t ruled in an abortion case since 2007.

The case is Pruitt v. Nova Health, 12-1170.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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