Group challenges Oklahoma's anti-abortion law

The Center for Reproductive Rights also is asking a judge to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent an Oklahoma law that puts restrictions on the use of abortion drugs from taking effect Nov. 1.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: October 7, 2011
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A New York-based reproductive rights group is seeking to block an Oklahoma law that puts restrictions on the use of abortion drugs.

The Center for Reproductive Rights also is asking a judge to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent the law from taking effect Nov. 1.

The measure, House Bill 1970, would impose severe restrictions on the use of federally approved drugs that are used for terminating a pregnancy, said Michelle Movahed, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights. A hearing has been set on that issue for Nov. 4 before Oklahoma County District Judge Dan Owens.

Defendants in the case are state Health Commissioner Terry Cline; Lyle Kelsey, executive director of the state Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision; and Catherine Taylor, president of the state Board of Osteopathic Examiners.

The center filed its lawsuit late Wednesday in Oklahoma County District Court on behalf of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, a nonprofit organization, and Nova Health Systems, doing business as Reproductive Services, an abortion provider and reproductive health care facility in Tulsa.

“What the law does is it prevents doctors from using their best medical judgment and all kinds of scientific evidence and medical research that's been done in providing care for women seeking pregnancy terminations,” Movahed said.

The measure would require physicians to administer abortion-inducing drugs, including RU486, in accordance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines. It also would require the physician to schedule a follow-up appointment and provide the patient with the drug's label to ensure the proper use of the drug.

Rep. Randy Grau, the author of HB 1970, said the intent of his legislation is to make sure the drugs are used properly in order to ensure the safety of pregnant women. He said he is confident the law will be upheld.

“I certainly believe that it's within a state's legislative prerogative to regulate the practice of medicine within its borders,” said Grau, R-Oklahoma City. “That's what this bill is about. It's actually increasing patient protection and safety.

“The bill that they are challenging actually provides for greater protection for pregnant women. It requires that there's an actual physician examination of the patient before they prescribe the drug.”

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