Judge Blocks Okla. Emergency Contraception Law

August 20, 2013 — An Oklahoma judge on Monday issued a temporary injunction to block enforcement of a state law that imposes age and other restrictions on access to emergency contraception, the New York Times reports (Schwartz, New York Times, 8/19).

The law mainly deals with regulations regarding health insurance benefit forms, but 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.

Lawsuit Details

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 was set to take effect on Aug. 22 (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/9).

Judge's Order

Oklahoma County District Judge Lisa Davis said she granted the temporary injunction because the plaintiffs have a strong likelihood of winning at trial (Hoberock, Tulsa World, 8/19).

In an emailed statement, CRR attorney David Brown said, "Once again Oklahoma politicians' efforts to turn back the clock on women's health and rights have been blocked" (Gillam, Reuters, 8/19). Brown noted that no other state in the U.S. has such restrictions on EC (Tulsa World, 8/19). The law "would have essentially reimposed" the federal restrictions on the drug, he added.

Diane Clay -- a spokesperson for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) -- in a statement said, "We're disappointed the judge prevented the law from going into effect." She added, "The law simply keeps requirements the same as they have been for more than a decade, requiring those under age 17 to have a prescription to buy Plan B emergency contraceptives" (New York Times, 8/19).