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Oklahoma court strikes down ultrasound abortion law

Modified: March 28, 2012 at 4:43 pm •  Published: March 28, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma judge on Wednesday struck down a state law requiring women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound image placed in front of them and to listen to a detailed description of the fetus before the procedure.

District Judge Bryan Dixon ruled the statute passed by the Legislature in 2010 is an unconstitutional special law because it addresses only patients, physicians and sonographers dealing with abortions and does not address them concerning other medical care.

Former Democratic Gov. Brad Henry had vetoed the bill after it passed the state's Republican-controlled Legislature, warning at the time that the measure likely would lead to a “potential futile legal battle.” Republicans managed to override the veto with the help of several anti-abortion Democrats.

But enforcement has been blocked since May 2010 when the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York challenged the law on behalf of Nova Health Systems, operator of Reproductive Services of Tulsa, and Dr. Larry Burns, who the group said provides abortions in Norman.

A lawsuit filed by the abortion-rights group claimed the statute violated the principles of medical ethics by requiring physicians to provide unnecessary and unwanted services to patients and discounting a woman's ability to make decisions about her pregnancy.

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