A national anti-abortion group filed a brief Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting Oklahoma's appeal of last year's state Supreme Court ruling that struck down legislation restricting the off-label use of certain abortion-inducing drugs.
Americans United for Life in its brief said the legislation, House Bill 1970 that was passed and signed into law in 2011, would have required physicians to dispense abortion-inducing drugs only as approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration.
“Lives have been lost through cavalier use of dangerous, life-ending drugs,” said the group's president and chief executive officer, Charmaine Yoest, who was at the state Capitol on Monday talking with Oklahoma legislators.
The Washington, D.C.-based group filed the petition on behalf of 79 Oklahoma legislators, representing the majority of each chamber of the Legislature, and Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, and Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, the authors of the legislation. Oklahoma's law was based on model legislation from Americans United for Life.
“HB 1970 simply requires that the regimen be administered in the way deemed safest by the FDA,” the petition states. “The act imposes no obstacle to obtaining an abortion.”
The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in December that a lower court judge was correct to block the law. It said the law violated a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision. In that ruling, the high court upheld a woman's constitutional right to have an abortion, with the justices imposing a new standard to determine the validity of laws restricting abortions. The new standard asked whether a state abortion regulation has the purpose or effect of imposing an “undue burden.”
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt last month filed a petition for review with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Michelle Movahed, staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, the New York-based group that filed legal challenges to the state measure, said Monday the law is unconstitutional.
“The law had only one purpose — to make it impossible for women to access a medically proven safe, effective and legal alternative to surgical abortion,” she said. “We are confident that the nation's highest court will reject this latest effort to chip away at women's constitutional rights and uphold the sound decisions of the state district judge and the Oklahoma Supreme Court.”
Yoest said the FDA approved the Mifeprex, or RU-486, regimen only through 49 days gestation, but abortion providers administer it up to 63 days. While the drugs are to be taken in a clinic or doctor's office, abortion providers send women home to self-administer the drugs alone and away from medical supervision, she said.
“The abortion industry's motivation in adopting protocols that endanger women and girls is as transparent as it is chilling,” Yoest said. “Their flagrant misuse of abortion-inducing drugs means abortion providers can push these drugs on more women and pocket larger profits than they would receive if they followed the protocols put in place by the FDA.
Oklahoma's law was enacted to stop this dangerous and exploitative scheme.”
Oklahoma's law, in addition to requiring the physician to administer the drugs in the way approved by the FDA, also would have required the physician physically examine the woman to establish gestational age and rule out ectopic pregnancies and other factors that might endanger the woman.
Americans United for Life said that since the Mifeprex regimen was approved in 2000, thousands of women across the nation have faced complications, many of them life-threatening.
Fourteen women have died, it said.
Lives have been lost through cavalier use of dangerous, life-ending drugs.”
President and chief executive officer of Americans United for Life