Lawsuit challenges Oklahoma law on abortion drugs

By Sean Murphy, Associated Press | Posted - Sep. 30, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.



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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A Tulsa medical clinic contends in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that an Oklahoma law set to take effect later this year further restricting the use of abortion-inducing drugs in the state is an unconstitutional violation of a woman's right to choose to end her pregnancy and should be declared void.

The petition was filed in Oklahoma County District Court on behalf of Reproductive Services, a clinic that provides both surgical and medication-induced abortions.

The petition challenges House Bill 2684, which was overwhelmingly passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature earlier this year and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. It is to take effect Nov. 1.

The new law would prohibit off-label uses of certain abortion-inducing drugs by requiring doctors to administer them only in accordance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration protocol. A similar bill was approved by the Legislature and signed in 2011, but that measure was declared unconstitutional by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which ruled that it effectively banned all drug-induced abortions in the state.

Rep. Randy Grau, the author of the bill, said it was specifically drafted to address raised by the court that lawmakers did not clearly state their intent.

"We fixed the issues that the court had," said Grau, R-Oklahoma City.

Grau said the intent of the bill is to protect women by ensuring any medication-induced abortion is done in compliance with FDA-approved protocol.

Among the drugs covered in the bill is mifepristone, originally known as RU-486. In 2001, the FDA approved the use of mifepristone through the first seven weeks of pregnancy. It is prescribed along with a second drug, misoprostol. Since the FDA approval, medical researchers and clinical trials have shown that mifepristone is effective in much smaller doses and for two weeks longer in a pregnancy.

Nancy Northrup, the president and CEO of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, whose attorneys are representing the Tulsa clinic in the case, said in a statement that the effect of the law will be to deny women an important option for ending a pregnancy safely and legally in the earliest stages.

"Oklahoma politicians are back at it again, playing doctor, intruding upon women's private decisions, and pretending their actions are good for women's health even though medical experts and associations nationwide make clear that they are absolutely not," Northrup said.

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Online:

House Bill 2684: http://bit.ly/OeveBx

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Sean Murphy

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