High court won’t hear Oklahoma ultrasound case

OKLAHOMA CITY — The US Supreme Court declined Tuesday to intervene in an overturned Oklahoma law that would have required women seeking abortions to first view an ultrasound image of the fetus, one of several such restrictions approved by legislatures across the country.

It was the second time in just over a week that the nation’s highest court declined to hear arguments over a proposed Oklahoma abortion restriction. It previously let stand an Oklahoma court’s decision that struck down a separate law restricting drug-induced abortion.

Under the ultrasound measure, approved by the Legislature in 2010 and struck down by the Oklahoma courts, women seeking an abortion would have been required to have an ultrasound exam and then have the image placed in front of them while the provider described the fetus.


Twenty three states had approved laws regulating ultrasounds and abortions, including three with laws similar to the Oklahoma one struck down. Those states are Texas, Louisiana, and Wisconsin, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

Get Ground Game in your inbox:
Daily updates and analysis on national politics from James Pindell.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

The high court’s decision not to hear Oklahoma’s case will not affect any of the other states, and it was not clear whether the justices would eventually decide to hear arguments on one of the other state laws.

Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma said she was disappointed by the court system in this case.

‘‘The US Supreme Court has prohibited states like Oklahoma from banning abortion, despite the fact that our citizens are overwhelmingly prolife,’’ she said in a statement. ‘‘Now the courts have taken their hostility to prolife legislation a step further, prohibiting the state from providing more information to women about their unborn children.’’

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the justices’ decision to let the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling stand was a victory for women and reproductive health care providers. She added that it sends a clear message to lawmakers across the country ‘‘that attacks on women’s health, rights, and dignity are patently unconstitutional and will not be allowed to stand.’’

Associated Press