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Lawsuit Challenges Okla. Law Restricting Medication Abortion

Lawsuit Challenges Okla. Law Restricting Medication Abortion

October 7, 2011 — The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and Tulsa-based reproductive health care provider Reproductive Services on Wednesday challenged a state law that would restrict the use of medication abortion drugs, The Oklahoman reports. The Center for Reproductive Rights, on behalf of the two organizations, asked an Oklahoma County District Court judge to issue a temporary injunction to prevent the law from taking effect on Nov. 1 (McNutt, The Oklahoman, 10/7).

The law (HB 1970) would require physicians who offer medication abortion drugs to conduct examinations of patients, document certain medical conditions and schedule follow-up appointments. It also would mandate that physicians follow FDA guidelines on medication abortion, rather than medical practice guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the National Abortion Federation that currently are used (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/28).

According to the lawsuit, the law would prohibit vaginal administration of the drugs, restrict the time the drugs could be administered and remove a treatment option for women with ectopic pregnancies (Muchmore, Tulsa World, 10/7).

Moreover, the law is vague and confusing, Michelle Mohaved, an attorney with CRR, said. "As it's written, one of things we've argued to the court is that no one could know what they can do in order to comply," she said.

In court papers, CRR wrote that the law "would irreparably injure the health and well-being of women who seek to end their pregnancies by nonsurgical means."

"It's the government's job to be making sure that everybody has access to the best medical care available," Mohaved said, adding, "Medication abortion was such an advance in medicine, so it's certainly depriving women of the ability to have access to all available safe and tested treatment options." The legislation also prevents physicians from "using their best medical judgment and all kinds of scientific evidence and medical research that's been done in providing care for women seeking pregnancy terminations," she said.

The bill's author, Rep. Randy Grau (R), said the intent of the legislation is to make sure the drugs are used properly. "These are very dangerous and we want to ensure that patients are protected and that physicians are following proper guidelines," Grau said. He added that he is confident the law will be upheld, stating, "I certainly believe that it's within a state's legislative prerogative to regulate the practice of medicine within its borders" (The Oklahoman, 10/7).