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Judge Temporarily Blocks Okla. Law Restricting Use of Abortion Drugs

Judge Temporarily Blocks Okla. Law Restricting Use of Abortion Drugs

October 20, 2011 — Oklahoma County District Judge Daniel Owens on Wednesday granted a temporary injunction against a new state law (HB 1970) that would restrict the use of medication abortion drugs, Reuters reports. The ruling prevents the law from taking effect on Nov. 1 (Olafson, Reuters, 10/19).

The law would require physicians who offer medication abortion services 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 guidelines from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the National Abortion Federation that currently are used.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed by the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and Tulsa-based reproductive health care provider Nova Health System, 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 (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/7).

State attorneys contend that off-label use of the drugs is dangerous and has led to the deaths of eight women. At issue are the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol, which are used in combination during the medication abortion regimen.

Plaintiffs' attorney Michelle Mohaved of the Center for Reproductive Rights disputed the state's claims about the deaths, adding that an investigation by FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found "absolutely no causal relationship" between the deaths and the drugs. According to Mohaved, a common regimen is for doctors to use one-third of the FDA-recommended amount of mifepristone, in combination with misoprostol. In the decade since mifepristone was approved by FDA, numerous studies have shown that the combined regimen is the safer and more effective option.

"The evidence supporting these alternative regimens are of such high quality that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists gave these alternative regiments their highest possible recommendation," Movahed said (Murphy, AP/Washington Post, 10/19). The plaintiffs will seek a permanent injunction against the law, she said (Reuters, 10/19).