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IN THE COURTS | Ohio Gov. Strickland To Remove Name From Effort To Back Law That Would Limit Use of Mifepristone

IN THE COURTS | Ohio Gov. Strickland To Remove Name From Effort To Back Law That Would Limit Use of Mifepristone
[Feb 22, 2007]

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) has filed a brief with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals requesting that his name be removed from a lawsuit defending an Ohio law (HB 126) that would restrict how Danco Laboratories' Mifeprex is used to induce a medical abortion, the AP/Coshocton Tribune reports (Smyth, AP/Coshcocton Tribune, 2/21). FDA in 2000 approved Mifeprex -- known generically as mifepristone -- to be taken in conjunction with the drug misoprostol to induce a medical abortion up to 49 days' gestation. Under the law, physicians in Ohio would have had to follow FDA guidelines for the drug and would not be allowed to administer mifepristone beyond seven weeks' gestation or at doses other than the approved 600 milligrams. Physicians sometimes administer the drug at lower doses up to 63 days' gestation. The law also would require physicians to perform a full medical examination on women before prescribing mifepristone and misoprostol and closely monitor patients after they have taken the drugs. Three Planned Parenthood Federation of America clinics and Preterm, the operator of an abortion clinic in Cleveland, in August 2004 filed a lawsuit against the state, saying that the law provides no exception to protect the health or lives of pregnant women. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists joined the lawsuit last year. U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott in September 2006 ruled that the law is unconstitutional because it is vague and could jeopardize women's health (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 9/29/06). The state appealed Dlott's ruling to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before Strickland took office in last month. "Because Gov. Strickland does not wish to seek reversal of the lower court's order, he seeks to withdraw his appeal," Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann (D) wrote to the 6th Circuit Court last week (AP/Coshcocton Tribune, 2/21).

AG Dann Plans To Continue With Appeal
Dann, who voted against the law in 2004 as a state senator, on Tuesday said he will he plans to continue with the appeal based on his belief that the law is not vague or unconstitutional, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer, 2/21). "I believed the statute is specific in both language and intent," Dann said in a statement, adding, "That is why I voted against it as a member of the Ohio Senate and that is why the appeal will go forward solely on those very narrow grounds." Dann's office said he could continue with the lawsuit despite Strickland's request because the attorney general was named separately in the lawsuit (Nash/Niquette, Columbus Dispatch, 2/20). According to the AP/Coshocton Tribune, abortion-rights supporters and opponents say it is unlikely Strickland's decision will affect the case (AP/Coshocton Tribune, 2/21).