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Lawsuit Challenges Okla. Medication Abortion Restrictions

October 1, 2014 — Oklahoma women's health care providers on Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging a state law (SB 1848) that would require physicians to administer medication abortion drugs according to FDA protocol and ban the method after 49 days of pregnancy, which goes against common medical practice, the Oklahoman reports (Green, Oklahoman, 9/30).

Similar Law Struck Down

The legislation was written in direct response to a state Supreme Court decision that struck down a similar state law as unconstitutional because it effectively banned all medication abortions in the state. The state's high court also said in the ruling that 96% of medication abortions are prescribed in a regimen that differs from FDA's protocol, noting that "medical research and advances do not stop upon a particular drug's approval by the FDA" (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/28).

The new law is schedule to take effect Nov. 1.

Lawsuit Details

The lawsuit was filed in Oklahoma County District Court by Nova Health Systems and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, both represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

In their brief, the plaintiffs argued that the law is "an unconstitutional intrusion on women's reproductive rights that will harm women's health and well-being."

CRR in a statement added that requiring clinics to adhere to FDA protocol would prevent clinics from administering the drugs in ways that make medication abortion safer, faster and less costly, with fewer complications (Oklahoman, 9/30).

Comments

Bill author state Rep. Randy Grau (R) expressed confidence the law would be upheld. He said that state lawmakers have "fixed the issues that the court had" when it overturned the previous law. Grau added that the bill is meant to protect women (Murphy, AP/Sacramento Bee, 9/30).

However, CRR President and CEO Nancy Northup said, "The true intent and effect of this law is to deny women an important option for ending a pregnancy safely and legally in the earliest stages," adding, "That is plainly unconstitutional, and we are confident that the court, as it has so many times before, will stop it from ever going into effect" (Oklahoman, 9/30).