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Abortion Cases: Okla. Rejected (Again), Texas Briefs SCOTUS

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

No, it's not your imagination. There is a storm brewing. Pro-life activists are passing dozens of controversial abortion restrictions in state legislatures throughout the country, hoping and praying that the challenges will reach our increasingly conservative Supreme Court. According to USA Today, 92 abortion restrictions were passed in 24 states in 2011. In 2012, 43 more were added to the books.

No such luck, at least so far. Fresh off a rejection of an appeal from Oklahoma over the state's ban on so-called "off-label" medical abortions, Oklahoma once again felt the sting of a SCOTUS rejection, even though there was a bit of a circuit split to resolve. Plus, Texas turned its eye to SCOTUS to defend its new geographic restriction.

Oklahoma Rejected, Part Deux

OK, so the poorly worded RU-486 drug-induced abortion restriction case didn't merit certiorari, but what about the ultrasound rule?

The Oklahoma Ultrasound Act required physicians, before performing an abortion, to "perform an obstetric ultrasound on the pregnant woman, using either a vaginal transducer or an abdominal transducer, whichever would display the embryo or fetus more clearly." The technician would also have to describe what was visible on the ultrasound, including organs if possible, to the pregnant woman, reports the The Wall Street Journal.

Much like the medical abortion restriction, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down the provision in a short Casey-laden opinion. That opinion will now stand, though the Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt, argues that the decision conflicts with existing Fifth Circuit precedent upholding Texas's sonogram requirement.

Texas's Mess

Speaking of Texas, the Republican-controlled Lone Star State reached out to the Supreme Court to defend its newly passed abortion law.

The district court blocked enforcement of the law, but the Fifth Circuit reversed, allowing enforcement while appeals are pending. The law's challengers, including Planned Parenthood, asked the High Court last week to block enforcement of the law.

The restriction prohibits abortions from being performed at any site that is not within 30 miles of a hospital where the treating physician has admitting privileges. Opponents claim that the restriction will force one-third of the state's providers to close, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The petition, and Texas's reply brief, were submitted to Justice Antonin Scalia, who can either act on it alone or refer it to the court as a whole.

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