Judge blocks Oklahoma 'morning after' pill law

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: August 19, 2013 at 10:03 pm •  Published: August 19, 2013

A judge blocked a measure Monday that would have forced women to show identification when buying “morning after” emergency contraceptives and required girls under 17 to have a prescription for the medication.

The law was scheduled to take effect Thursday.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights is seeking to overturn the law, saying it is unconstitutional and discriminates against women. The group filed a lawsuit earlier this month on behalf of Jo Ann Mangili, of Mounds, who has a 15-year-old daughter, and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, which has about 1,000 members.

Oklahoma County District Judge Lisa Davis issued a temporary injunction to block the law, which was contained in House Bill 2226, from taking effect. The injunction will remain in place while the lawsuit challenging the law proceeds.

After a 10-year legal challenge led by the Center for Reproductive Rights and a federal court order, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June approved a widely used brand of emergency contraception — Plan B One-Step — and generic emergency contraceptives for unrestricted, over the counter sale.

As of Aug. 1, the product is available in the family planning aisle of pharmacy and grocery store shelves across the country, including in Oklahoma, to women of all ages.

The generic name of the medication used in Plan B One-Step is levonorgestrel. It is an emergency contraceptive that is taken after sexual intercourse to prevent pregnancy, and it is to be taken as soon as possible. It is not capable of terminating an existing pregnancy.

Mangili, a registered nurse, said she wanted to preserve her daughter's right to obtain the contraceptive without obtaining a prescription.

“Teens feel that they don't have a way out, and they feel, whether rightly or wrongly, they have no one to talk to and they take drastic measures,” she said. “The FDA has approved this. … I don't see why this drug should be blocked.”

Martha Skeeters, president of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, said the judge's ruling is good news, especially for younger Oklahoma women and teens.

“This really will help to prevent unintended pregnancies among all women in Oklahoma, particularly among teens, which is very important given that Oklahoma is seventh among states for teen pregnancies,” she said.

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