Lawsuit Challenges Okla. Emergency Contraception Restrictions
August 9, 2013 — Reproductive-rights advocates on Thursday filed a lawsuit seeking to block an Oklahoma law that limits access to emergency contraception, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
The measure -- signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin (R) on May 29 -- mainly deals with regulations regarding health insurance benefit forms. However, one section bars women younger than age 17 from obtaining EC without a prescription. The law also requires individuals ages 17 and older to show a form of identification to purchase EC.
State Rep. Colby Schwartz (R), who wrote the measure, said it was passed in response to the Obama administration's decision to make EC available over the counter without age or point-of-sale restrictions.
The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the suit in Oklahoma County District Court on behalf of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and Jo Ann Mangili, the mother of a 15-year-old girl. The suit argues that the law is unconstitutional and discriminatory because it imposes restrictions on a form of contraception used only by women.
The suit also alleges that the legislation is invalid because the bill addressed more than one topic, violating the state constitution's single-subject rule. The plaintiffs asked for a temporary restraining order and injunction against enforcement of the provision, which is scheduled to take effect on Aug. 22.
District Judge Lisa Davis scheduled an Aug. 19 hearing.
Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice President Martha Skeeters said women in Oklahoma deserve the same unrestricted access to EC as the rest of the country. She said, "It has taken over a decade for women in this country to see emergency contraception sold on the shelves without restriction, and Oklahoma women shouldn't have to wait even longer" (Talley, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/8).
Bebe Anderson -- director of CRR's U.S. legal program -- said, "At a time when the federal government has taken an historic step to make emergency contraception more available to millions of women across the country, these hostile politicians have chosen to stand in the way of progress" (Harris, Bloomberg Businessweek, 8/8).
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) said his office will review the complaint and "respond accordingly." He added, "This is yet another attempt by an out-of-state group and its affiliates to challenge Oklahoma's legitimate interest in enacting safeguards for the health and safety of Oklahoma women and, in this case, children" (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/8).