Latest Court Decisions Highlight Increased State Restrictions on Medication Abortions

November 1, 2013 — Two court rulings this week on medication abortion laws in Oklahoma and Texas highlight a growing trend among states restricting the use of the drugs used in the method, Mother Jones reports.

According to Mother Jones, in recent years, at least 39 states have enacted laws targeting abortion drugs, such as requiring doctors to follow outdated FDA protocols or mandating that they be physically present when the drugs are administered. The laws contradict recommendations from the World Health Organization and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that doctors prescribe a lower dose and require fewer office visits than would be needed under the FDA protocol.

Hank Greely, director of the Center for Law and Biosciences at Stanford University, said that if the Supreme Court decides to hear the Oklahoma case, the decision could serve as a litmus test for states that have taken an incremental approach to limiting abortion based on dubious concerns about safety. Greely said, "Any Supreme Court decision upholding one of these measures ... makes all the others that much more viable."

However, Greely and other observers also have noted that the Supreme Court might opt to not take up the case, given that the state court that blocked the law has now clarified that the measure would have banned all medication abortions, Mother Jones reports. If the high court does not hear the case, the law would remain blocked (Blake, Mother Jones, 10/30).