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04.27.10 - (PRESS RELEASE) Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a challenge against Oklahoma legislation which prohibits a woman from getting an abortion unless she first has an ultrasound, is shown the ultrasound image and listens to her doctor describe the image in detail. The lawsuit follows the Oklahoma Senate voting to override Governor Brad Henry’s veto of the legislation this afternoon.
“It is extremely disappointing that the Oklahoma legislature insists on passing a law that is so clearly unconstitutional and so detrimental to women in the state,” said Stephanie Toti, staff attorney in the U.S. Legal Program of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The state has already spent the last two years defending this abortion restriction and several others—without success. Another round in the courts won’t change our strong constitutional claims against the law, it will only waste more of Oklahoma taxpayers’ time and money.”
The Center argues that the ultrasound requirement profoundly intrudes upon a patient’s privacy and is the most extreme ultrasound law in the country. The law forces a woman to hear information that she may not want to hear and that may not be relevant to her medical care. It also dangerously discounts her abilities to make healthy decisions about her own life by forcing her to hear information when she's objected. In addition, the statute interferes with the doctor-patient relationship—potentially damaging it—by compelling doctors to deliver unwanted speech.
“Politicians have no business making medical decisions,” said Toti. “When they do, it seriously undermines doctors’ ability to give patients the best medical care and does absolutely nothing to improve the health of patients.”
Last year, an Oklahoma state court struck down the ultrasound provision, among other abortion restrictions, as part of an omnibus bill in a single-subject challenge.