Setback for Pro-Lifers; Judge Nixes Oklahoma Ultrasound Law

| by Baptist Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- An Oklahoma judge has invalidated on procedural grounds a state ultrasound law described by a national pro-life organization as the best in the country.

The 2008 law required a medical worker to perform an ultrasound on a woman seeking an abortion, display the image of the unborn child and explain the sonogram. The pregnant woman was not required to view the image.

County District Judge Vicki Robertson struck down the measure Aug. 18, saying it transgressed a state requirement that legislation have one subject, according to The Daily Oklahoman. The legislation was a combination of five proposals, including one mandating that abortion clinics display signs saying a woman cannot be forced to have the procedure and another requiring the abortion drug RU 486 be dispensed according to federal guidelines.

Supporters of the law said they believe the law deals with a single issue -- the protection of unborn life. They promised to continue to work to have the law's provisions take effect. The state attorney general could appeal the decision. If they fail to win in court, the law's legislative advocates said they could seek passage of the measure's provisions separately.

"I think the life issue is definitely worth fighting for," said Rep. Pam Peterson, R.-Tulsa, the law's sponsor in the House of Representatives.

"I think the judge ruled on a technicality and not on the true substance of the bill," she said, according to The Oklahoman. "It's a setback, and, if the state doesn't appeal the ruling, we will continue to stand for life in this state."

The National Right to Life Committee had characterized the measure as "the strongest, most protective ultrasound law in the nation."

The Oklahoma legislature overrode the veto of Democratic Gov. Brad Henry to enact the legislation. The Oklahoma Senate voted 37-11 and the House 81-15 in April 2008 to achieve the required two-thirds majority for an override.

Sonogram machines have been important tools in pro-life pregnancy care centers' attempts to educate pregnant women about their unborn children. Such centers have reported dramatic upswings in clients choosing to give birth after viewing ultrasound images of their babies.