Supreme Court rejects Oklahoma abortion regulation a second time

Antiabortion and pro-choice placards are seen in front of the Supreme Court.
(Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — For the second time in two weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a ruling that strikes down a major abortion regulation from Oklahoma.

The justices on Tuesday turned down the state’s attempt to reinstate a law that would have required pregnant women to undergo an ultrasound test and hear about the size and possible heartbeat of the fetus.

Last year, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down the state’s ultrasound law on the grounds it put an undue burden on a woman’s right to abortion.


State Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt appealed and argued the law was needed to ensure women were “fully informed” before they opted for abortion. He also noted that a similar Texas law was upheld last year by a federal appeals court.

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But lawyers for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which led the challenge to the law, said Oklahoma’s law was unique and extreme. Among the four states with a mandatory ultrasound law, only Oklahoma requires a vaginal probe, Stephanie Toti, a lawyer for the center, said in urging the court to reject the appeal. “It compels women to undergo an invasive medical examination and listen to a state-scripted narrative, even if they object,” she added.

Without comment or dissent, the justices said they would not hear the state’s appeal in Pruitt vs. Nova Health Systems.

Last week, the justices refused to hear the state’s appeal of a law that would have prevented doctors from prescribing the combination of two drugs commonly used to induce abortion in the early weeks of a pregnancy.

The pair of decisions suggests the justices are not anxious to revisit the controversy over abortion in cases that push the margin in terms of medical regulations.


Texas and Louisiana have mandatory ultrasound laws in effect, while a similar North Carolina law was blocked by a judge.


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