Oklahoma High Court Says Abortion Laws Unconstitutional

The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional state laws that expanded rules for doctors prescribing pregnancy-ending drugs and required women seeking abortions to have ultrasound scans.

The court said today it was bound by standards imposed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1992 decision called Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe v. Wade and blocked regulations that impose a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions before a fetus can survive outside the womb.

The Oklahoma law limiting the use of abortion-inducing drugs required doctors to provide the medicines in accordance with procedures tested and authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and barred any off-label uses of abortion drugs.

Abortion providers that sued said they couldn’t provide medication-induced abortions under the law because complying with its requirements isn’t possible. The FDA doesn’t test or authorize protocols for the two-drug treatment commonly used to end pregnancies.

State officials argued there’s evidence that off-label use of abortion-inducing drugs lead to serious infections and death.

State judges previously blocked both laws, drawing appeals from Oklahoma officials.

“We disagree with the court’s decision, particularly with the fact that the question on whether Oklahoma’s constitution provides a right to an abortion was left unanswered,” state Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in an e-mail. “Our job is to protect the citizens of Oklahoma and we will consider an appeal.”

The cases are Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice v Cline, 110765, and Nova Health Systems v Pruitt, 110813, Oklahoma Supreme Court (Oklahoma City).

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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