National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Okla. House Tries Again on Medication Abortion Restrictions

Okla. House Tries Again on Medication Abortion Restrictions

March 12, 2014 — The Oklahoma House has approved a measure (HB 2684) that would restrict the use of medication abortion in the state, the Tulsa World reports (Krehbiel, Tulsa World, 3/11).

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Randy Grau (R), was written in direct response to a recent court decision that struck down a similar Oklahoma law (HB 1970) as unconstitutional because it effectively banned all medication abortions in the state (Murphy, AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/10).

Previous Law

The older law required physicians to follow FDA guidelines on medication abortion, rather than guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the National Abortion Federation that currently are used. An Oklahoma trial court judge struck down the law in 2012, and the state Supreme Court that December issued a brief affirmation of that decision.

In November 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Oklahoma's appeal to reinstate the law after seeking clarification on the law from state judges. The Oklahoma Supreme Court said that the law prohibits mifepristone and methotrexate because FDA has not specifically approved either medication as an "abortion-inducing drug," as required under the state statute. The judges said that the law "effectively bans all medication abortions," adding, "Ninety-six percent of medication abortions in the United States are now provided according to a regimen different from the one described in mifepristone's F.D.A.-approved label" (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/4/13).

New Bill

The new bill also would require that physicians in the state administer medication abortion drugs according to FDA protocol. However, it specifies that it does not ban the use of the drug misoprostol in medication abortions and that it does not prohibit the off-label use of drugs for the treatment of ectopic pregnancies.

The measure now heads to the state Senate for consideration.

Comments

Grau said the bill is "important ... because the court was not clear on the legislative purpose" of the prior measure.

State Rep. Emily Virgin (D) questioned why legislators were involving themselves in patient-doctor decisions, saying, "I have yet to find another area of medicine where the Legislature continually finds a need to involve itself" in such matters (AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/10).