WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court declined Tuesday to review an Oklahoma abortion case, effectively upholding a ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court that a state law requiring an ultrasound test and a doctor's narration was an unconstitutional burden on a woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy.
Without comment, the nation's high court declined to accept Oklahoma's appeal.
It was the second time this month that the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the state on an abortion case after showing some interest in the law being disputed. Last week, the high court declined to review a law regarding drug-induced abortions.
That law had also been struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
The ultrasound law would have required a physician to perform an ultrasound test using either a vaginal probe or an abdominal transducer and explain to the woman what the ultrasound was depicting.
The state argued that the U.S. Supreme Court has condoned laws that require physicians provide truthful information to women seeking abortions and that such laws did not pose a substantial obstacle to abortion.
Moreover, the state said the Oklahoma Supreme Court decision conflicts with a federal appeals ruling that upheld a similar law.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which challenged the law on behalf of an Oklahoma physician and abortion clinic, urged the U.S. Supreme Court not to review the case, arguing that the Oklahoma Supreme Court had rightly struck it down.
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said Tuesday, “A woman's personal, private medical decisions should be made in consultation with the health care professionals she trusts, without interference by politicians who presume to know better.
“Today the U.S. Supreme Court has let stand another strong decision by the Oklahoma courts protecting a woman's constitutional right to make her own decisions about whether to continue a pregnancy from the intrusion of politicians opposed to her rights and indifferent to her health.”
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who sought the review, said, “We're disappointed in the court's decision not to review the case, particularly given that Texas' similar ultrasound law was upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“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.”
In its brief to the court, the Center for Reproductive Rights argued that the Texas case was different from Oklahoma's in that it was challenged on First Amendment grounds by, among others, physicians who said they shouldn't be compelled to tell patients about ultrasound images.
The Oklahoma law was struck down because it violated a woman's due process right to terminate a pregnancy, the center told the high court.
According to the center, only Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina have approved laws requiring ultrasound tests with mandatory narration. Only Oklahoma's required a vaginal probe, the center said.