The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down two pro-life laws enacted with overwhelming support in the state legislature.
The first law required a woman seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound at least an hour before the procedure and listen to a description of her baby. The second law restricted the use of abortifacient drugs and required doctors to examine women before handing out prescriptions.
The court ruled the ultrasound law, passed in 2010, violated the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In that case, the justices ruled states could not enact laws with the intent to restrict access to abortion, unless the regulations furthered the mother’s health and safety.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who defended the law, believes the state court misinterpreted the 1992 ruling.
"We disagree with the court's decision, particularly with the fact that the question on whether Oklahoma's Constitution provides a right to an abortion was left unanswered," he said in a statement.
Tony Lauinger, chairman of Oklahomans for Life, also believes the state Supreme Court misinterpreted the earlier decision. The law provides a level of informed consent for women seeking abortions, something the federal decision permits, he said: "The ultrasound law does not prohibit abortion. It regulates abortion."
Pruitt may appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The other law struck down by the state Supreme Court required doctors to follow strict guidelines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for abortifacient drugs. It prohibited them from changing a recommended dosage or prescribing the drugs for symptoms other than they were initially approved for. It also required doctors to examine women before writing prescriptions and schedule follow-up appointments.
This is the second time this year the Oklahoma Supreme Court has struck down abortion regulations. In October, the justices halted efforts to give babies personhood rights. It also cited Planned Parenthood v. Casey in that decision. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up the case on appeal.