Oklahoma Supreme Court strikes down state law restricting drug-induced abortion
May 1, 2019
Oklahoma’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that a state law that restricts access to drug-induced abortions unconstitutional.
The decision overturns a 2014 state law that banned “off-label” use of mifepristone, a medication used for abortions, also referred to as RU-486, which made Oklahoma the only state to have such a ban. The statute required physicians to comply with the Food and Drug Administration’s earlier label protocol for medically terminated pregnancies rather than an updated protocol introduced in 2016.
The Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit over the law in September 2014, and a state court blocked it in November 2017. The state then appealed the decision to the high court, which upheld the lower court’s decision Tuesday after previously allowing it to stay in place in 2016 to allow the lower-court litigation to proceed.
The state Supreme Court ruled 7-1 that the requirement “places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman’s choice and imposes an undue burden on the woman’s rights.” Autumn Katz, Senior Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, characterized the decision as a “critical victory for Oklahoma women and their doctors.” Katz praised the court for placing “science over politics.”
The advocacy group notes that “Oklahoma is already one of the most restrictive states in the country in terms of abortion access.” Since 2011, Oklahoma has passed more than 20 bills restricting access to abortion and other reproductive health care. Recently, Oklahoma enacted SB 614, a bill that requires abortion clinics to post signage that claims it may be possible to “reverse” a medication abortion, and the legislature is currently considering SB 195, a constitutional amendment stating that the Oklahoma constitution does not protect the right to abortion.