Last updated: February 19. 2013 8:32PM - 135 Views

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(AP) Oklahoma laws requiring women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound image placed in front of them while they hear a description of the fetus and that ban off-able use of certain abortion-inducing drugs are unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The state's highest court determined that lower court judges were right to halt the laws. In separate decisions, the Oklahoma Supreme Court said the laws, which received wide bipartisan support in the Legislature, violated a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court case.

The Oklahoma court said it has a duty to follow the mandate of the United State Supreme Court on matters of federal constitutional law.

The Legislature passed the ultrasound law in 2010. Oklahoma is one of several states that have passed laws requiring doctors to both perform an ultrasound and provide a verbal description of the fetus before an abortion. The other law was approved in 2011.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights challenged both laws, and Oklahoma County judges had halted their enforcement while the court cases made their way through the judicial system.

Michelle Movahed, a staff attorney for the abortion-rights group, said the rulings represent a sweeping and unequivocal rejection of the Legislature's attempt to restrict the reproductive rights of women.

We're obviously thrilled, Movahed said. She said the decision indicates the U.S. Constitution does not permit the kinds of restrictions on women's rights that the laws imposed.

State Attorney General Scott Pruitt, whose office appealed lower-court decisions that invalidated the laws, said he is considering appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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, Pruitt said in a statement.

The ultrasound law was struck down in March by District Judge Bryan Dixon, who ruled that the statute was an unconstitutional special law that could not be enforced because it addressed only patients, physicians and sonographers dealing with abortions without addressing other medical care.

The other law was rejected in May by District Judge Donald Worthington, who ruled it violated the fundamental rights of women to privacy and bodily integrity.

The law required doctors to follow strict guidelines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and prohibited off-label uses of certain abortion-inducing drugs such as RU-486. Such moves include changing a recommended dosage or prescribing it for different symptoms than the drug was initially approved for.

The law also required doctors to examine women before prescribing the drugs, document certain medical conditions and schedule follow-up appointments.

Pruitt said he was disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision on that law.

There is overwhelming evidence that the off-label use of abortion-inducing drugs leads to serious infections and death for many healthy, unsuspecting women. This is not OK, Pruitt said.

All nine justices on the court joined in the decision involving the abortion-inducing drugs, while eight justices concurred in the ultrasound ruling. Justice Noma Gurich, a former Oklahoma County judge who issued an injunction blocking enforcement of that law in July 2010, recused herself from the decision.

Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court halted an effort to grant personhood rights to human embryos, citing the same 1992 U.S. Supreme Court case.

Supporters of the personhood amendment appealed the state court's decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to take up the case.

Associated Press
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