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Oklahoma Mandatory Ultrasound Law Is Ruled Unconstitutional

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An Oklahoma state judge on Wednesday permanently blocked enforcement of a law that would have required doctors to give a woman an ultrasound and describe the fetus to her in detail before performing an abortion. The ultrasound law, which the Oklahoma Legislature passed in April 2010, had been temporary blocked since the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against it the following month.

The Oklahoma County district court judge found the law unconstitutional, agreeing with the plaintiffs' arguments that it violates medical ethics by forcing doctors to perform medically unnecessary procedures and discounting women's ability to make personal health decisions without the government's interference.

"The court has resoundingly affirmed what should not be a matter of controversy at all -- that women have both a fundamental right to make their own choices about their reproductive health, and that government has no place in their decisions," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement.

A similar mandatory ultrasound law in Texas was upheld by a federal appeals court in January. Chief Judge Edith Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit wrote that the "required disclosures of a sonogram, the fetal heartbeat, and their medical descriptions are the epitome of truthful, non-misleading information."

But North Carolina's ultrasound law has been enjoined since October 2011, and Idaho lawmakers dropped their version of the bill on Wednesday because it was so heavily embroiled in controversy.

"Today's decision adds to the growing momentum of a nationwide backlash against the overreaching of lawmakers hostile to women, their doctors, and their rights," Northup said.

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