Oklahoma judge strikes down law restricting use of abortion drugs

[JURIST] A judge for the District Court of Oklahoma County on Friday ruled [docket materials] that an Oklahoma law [HB 1970 text] restricting how doctors may use abortion-inducing drugs to treat patients was a violation of the Oklahoma Constitution [text]. The law required doctors prescribing abortion drugs to meet stricter requirements, including administering the drug on location in the medical facility, scheduling mandatory follow-up appointments, explaining drug labels to patients and reporting possible negative drug reactions to the pharmaceutical manufacturers. The Center for Reproductive Rights and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice (OCRJ) [advocacy websites] filed suit challenging the law in October, arguing that placing restrictions on the use of abortion-inducing drugs violates the equal protection clause of the Oklahoma Constitution. In a statement [text] on its website, the Center for Reproductive Rights celebrated the court's decision:

This decision adds to a growing list of state and federal courts that have reaffirmed in no uncertain terms that reproductive rights are fundamental constitutional rights that must be afforded the strongest possible legal protection. The court has made it clear this law was never about protecting women. It was about banning safe and effective methods of terminating a pregnancy, and making it impossible for women to exercise the full range of their constitutionally protected rights.
The law was originally scheduled to take effect on November 1, 2011, but was temporarily blocked [JURIST report] in October. The Attorney General's office has indicated they will appeal [AP report] this decision.

Oklahoma has passed several restrictive abortion laws in recent years. In April 2011, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin [official profile] signed into law [JURIST report] a bill [HB 1888 materials] prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks. The law allows abortions past the 20-week mark only in certain extenuating circumstances where the mother faces death or serious injury. A doctor who performs an abortion in violation of the time limit would be subject to criminal prosecution for a felony, but the woman undergoing the procedure would not face a penalty. Last year, an Oklahoma state judge extended a temporary injunction [JURIST report] blocking enforcement of a law [HB 2780 text, RTF] that would require women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound and hear a description of the fetus. In May 2010, the Oklahoma Senate [official website] voted to override the veto of a bill [HB 3284 text, RTF] that would require women seeking an abortion to complete a questionnaire, answering questions such as marital status, reasons for seeking the abortion, and whether the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

 

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