OKLAHOMA CITY -- 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-lable 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 States 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 stated.
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 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.