The legal battle over an Oklahoma law regulating use of abortion drugs could have far-reaching impact. The question at hand: Are abortion rights so absolute that states can't regulate the procedure in any way, even if a specific method may kill a woman in the process?
House Bill 1970 requires mifepristone (RU-486) or any other abortion-inducing drug to be provided only as explicitly approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down the law, basically ruling that since abortion is constitutional, regulation of it is not. The state is appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. An amicus brief filed by Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, and 82 other lawmakers provides their defense of the law.
During the drug-approval process, Grau notes the FDA informed the drug sponsor “that restrictions ‘on the distribution and use of mifepristone are needed to assure safe use' of the Mifeprex (RU-486) regimen.” The FDA also “concluded that available data did not support the safety of home use of misoprostol,” which is used in conjunction with mifepristone, and “rejected the sponsor's suggestion” that guidelines include “information on self-administering misoprostol at home.”
Fourteen U.S. deaths have been associated with use of the RU-486 regimen, with eight the result of bacterial infection that followed “an unapproved use” of the Mifeprex (RU-486) regimen. “On the other hand,” Grau wrote, “the FDA has not received a single report of a woman dying from bacterial infection following the FDA-approved oral use of misoprostol.”
Under HB 1970, mifepristone can still be taken to induce abortions in Oklahoma — when used as authorized by the FDA. The law does not apply to ectopic pregnancies. It's hardly a frontal assault on Roe v. Wade. Instead, this debate is far more basic:
Are federal drug regulations to be taken seriously only when the patient isn't a pregnant woman?