WASHINGTON – For the second week in a row, the Supreme Court let stand a ruling that strikes down a major abortion regulation from Oklahoma, disappointing abortion foes who had hoped conservative justices would impose new limits on a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.
The justices on Tuesday turned down Oklahoma’s appeal seeking to revive a law that would have required pregnant women to undergo an ultrasound and hear about the fetus’ size and possible heartbeat.
Last week, the court dismissed the state’s appeal of a second law that would have prohibited doctors from prescribing a combination of two drugs commonly used to induce abortion in the early weeks of pregnancy.
Although the justices made no comment on either appeal, the pair of decisions suggests they are not anxious to revisit the abortion controversy in cases that severely limit availability of the procedure or mandate overly invasive measures.
Two other abortion cases are pending. The Planned Parenthood Federation has asked the justices to block a Texas law that could force one-third of the state’s abortion clinics to stop performing the procedure. The court is likely to act on that request within days.
And Arizona has appealed a ruling that struck down a new 20-week limit on legal abortions. The Roe v. Wade ruling has been understood to make abortion legal through 24 weeks of pregnancy. Besides Arizona, 11 other states have adopted the 20-week limit, so the justices may feel obliged to take up that issue early next year.