The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear two cases that challenge state court rulings which struck down Right-to-Life laws intended to restrict a women’s access to abortion services.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court had previously ruled in Pruitt v. Nova Health Systems that a law to require abdominal or transvaginal ultrasounds prior to receiving an abortion was “facially unconstitutional”, citing the landmark 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to that ruling.
Another challenge last week, also from the Sooner State, was to the state high court striking down a law that placed restrictions on “medical abortions” (drug-induced) in Cline v. The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice. The Supreme Court also took a pass on reviewing that case.
The Center for Reproductive Rights was integral in securing these victories in the Oklahoma courts. Nancy Northrup, President of the Center had this to say about this week’s good news:
“The Supreme Court has let stand a strong decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court that recognized this law for what it is: an outright ban on a safe method of ending a pregnancy in its earliest stages, and an unconstitutional attack on women’s health and rights.
“Politicians have been pushing for these restrictions nationwide under the thin pretext of protecting women’s health, but their real agenda is to deny women their right to end a pregnancy safely, early, and in consultation with their doctors.
“This should send a strong message to politicians in Oklahoma and across the U.S. that women’s constitutional rights are not up for debate and cannot be legislated away.”
Michigan GOP lawmakers have twice attempted to pass legislation requiring transvaginal ultrasounds, with Gov. Snyder finally telling lawmakers earlier this year he would refuse to sign such a law.
Another piece of pending GOP legislation in Michigan is Senate Bill 136, which was introduced back in January and remains in the Senate Committee on Health. Bills similar to this have turned-up in legislatures across the county, all with the intent to make contraceptive and reproductive care difficult to obtain. Like the other attempts, Michigan’s law would exempt health care professionals, employers providing insurance, and pharmacists from giving specific care to individuals seeking birth control, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and end-of-life care, among other treatments, based solely on unspecified religious or moral objections of the provider. As written, the proposed legislation does not require the provider to give any advance notice as to what they may object to, leaving the patient to find out only after care has commenced. Additionally, there is concern that in rural areas, where health care is limited, some patients may not have access to alternative facilities or pharmacists.
The Supreme Court refusal to hear these two challenges to women’s reproductive rights should serve as a warning to Michigan’s Republican lawmakers to avoid advancing any further morally prescriptive legislation.
Amy Kerr Hardin