Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt plans to appeal a decision overturning a law that would have required women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound, he announced Friday.
Oklahoma County District Judge Bryan Dixon declared the law unconstitutional in a summary judgment handed down Wednesday. The law would have required doctors or their technicians to show pregnant women ultrasound images of their fetuses and discuss those images with the women before abortions were performed.
“The law is about presenting abortion accurately with full information about the outcome,” Pruitt said in a statement.
“We have an obligation to protect our citizens and make sure abortion is held to the same standard as any medically informed decision.”
Diane Clay, a spokeswoman for Pruitt, said the case would be appealed directly to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which will then determine whether to keep the case or refer it to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals.
Former Attorney General Drew Edmondson hired outside counsel to assist his staff with the case, Clay said. To date, the state has paid about $145,000 for outside counsel on this case, she said.
The Legislature passed the law, commonly called the Ultrasound Act, in April 2010, overriding a veto by then-Gov. Brad Henry.
At the time of his veto, Henry said he was concerned the law had numerous flaws and would result in an expensive and possibly futile legal battle for the state.
Henry also said he was concerned about the lack of exemptions for victims of rape and incest.
“By forcing the victims of such horrific acts to undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the procedure after they have faced the unspeakable trauma of rape or incest, the state victimizes the victim for a second time,” Henry said at the time. “It would be unconscionable to subject rape and incest victims to such treatment.”
Enforcement of the law has been blocked by a temporary injunction since May 2010. That injunction came after the Center for Reproductive Rights, a New York-based abortion rights group, challenged the law in Oklahoma County District Court on behalf of Nova Health Systems, which operates Reproductive Services of Tulsa.
Texas enacted a similar law last year. Under that law, abortion providers must perform an ultrasound, show and describe the image to their patients and play the sound of the fetal heartbeat. Women may decline to hear the heartbeat or view the images but must listen to a description of the exam. A federal judge last month allowed Texas to begin enforcing the statute.