OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma law restricting the use of certain abortion-inducing drugs has been ruled unconstitutional by a district court judge, who said it violates “the fundamental rights of women to privacy and bodily integrity.”
The law passed last year required doctors to follow strict guidelines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and prohibited off-label uses of the drugs — such as changing a recommended dosage or prescribing it for different symptoms than the drug was initially approved for. It also required doctors to examine women before prescribing the drugs, document certain medical conditions and schedule follow-up appointments.
The law never went into effect after a temporary injunction against it was issued in October.
Opponents expressed delight Monday with Judge Donald Worthington's decision, while supporters predicted the ruling would not stand.
“We're absolutely thrilled, the mood around here is electric,” said Michelle Movahed, attorney for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit challenging the law on behalf of Nova Health Systems' Tulsa-based Center for Reproductive Rights and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice.
The lawsuit argued that the restrictions would leave women no choice but to undergo invasive surgeries to end their pregnancies.
“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,” according to a statement from Nancy Northup, president and CEO for the Center for Reproductive Rights.
State Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, the House author of the bill, said Monday that Worthington's ruling is wrong.
“I'm confident the AG's (attorney general's) Office will appeal this decision,” Grau said. “The purpose of this was patient protection and safety. There were several different safety provisions included in the bill. I'm sure the fight will continue, and that we'll see this overturned.”
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Scott Pruitt said an appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court was planned.
“The district judge in this case took the unprecedented step of finding that the Oklahoma Constitution contains a right to an abortion,” Diane Clay said in an email. “The district court's decision is wrong, it is not supported by any decision from the state Supreme Court or any other Oklahoma court, and will be appealed.”
Movahed said there is one drug labeled for use to induce abortions, but it must be used in conjunction with another drug, whose label does not include use in abortions, leaving surgery as the only option if the law had been upheld.
Associated Press Writer Sean Murphy contributed to this report.