Oklahoma Law Restricting Abortion-Inducing Drugs Challenged

A New York-based abortion rights group filed a legal challenge this week to an Oklahoma law that would set certain parameters on how physicians in the Sooner State prescribe and treat women with abortion-inducing drugs.

“The law jeopardizes women’s health,” said Michelle Movahed, a staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed its challenge in Oklahoma County District Court on behalf of Nova Health Systems, a Tulsa, Okla., abortion provider, and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice.

The law, which is scheduled to take effect Nov. 1, was sponsored by Oklahoma state Rep. Randy Grau, and Sen. Greg Treat, both Republicans. It was overwhelmingly approved by both houses of the state legislature before it was signed by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.

The law requires doctors to follow guidelines and protocols set forth by the federal Food and Drug Administration, and prohibits any off-label uses of abortion-inducing drugs, including RU-486.

It also requires Oklahoma physicians to perform examinations of women considering abortions, document specified medical conditions and schedule follow-up appointments.

In its lawsuit, CRR argues that the Oklahoma abortion law “imposes severe restrictions on the use of FDA-approved medications for the purpose of terminating a pregnancy.” It maintains that the restrictions “are contrary to all available medical evidence and serve no legitimate governmental interest.”

Treat and Grau disagree. Abortion-inducing drugs “are very dangerous,” Grau told the Associated Press, noting that the off-label use of RU-486 has caused multiple deaths. In the vast majority of those cases, he added, “the drugs were not used pursuant to FDA protocol or guidelines.”

Movahed, the CRR staff attorney, claimed that off-label uses account for more than 20 percent all prescription drug use. She said that targeting RU-486 and other abortion-inducing drugs, while ignoring off-label uses of other drugs, amounts to impermissible special law.

A hearing on CRR’s challenge has been set for Nov. 4. In the meantime, the abortion-rights organization is asking Oklahoma County District Judge Dan Owens to impose a temporary injunction preventing the law from actually taking effect Nov. 1.

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