Oklahoma Sued Over New Emergency-Contraception Access Law

A new Oklahoma law limiting access to emergency contraception discriminates against women and violates the state’s constitution, according to a lawsuit filed by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights.

The center is seeking a court finding that the measure signed by Republican Governor Mary Fallin violates a woman’s right to contraception under the state’s constitution and that the legislation itself was invalid because the bill addressed more than one topic in violation of the state constitution’s “single subject” rule.

The legislation, signed by Fallin on May 29, bars women under the age of 17 from obtaining the “morning-after” type contraception without a prescription. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug’s use for all women of “child bearing potential” on June 20.

“At a time when the federal government has taken an historic step to make emergency contraception more available to millions of women across the country, these hostile politicians have chosen to stand in the way of progress,” and impose arbitrary barriers, said Bebe Anderson, director of the center’s U.S. legal program, in the statement. The age restriction on RU-486 is scheduled to take effect Aug. 22.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said that his office will review the complaint filed today in state court in Oklahoma City and “respond accordingly.”

Health Safeguards

“This is yet another attempt by an out-of-state group and its affiliates to challenge Oklahoma’s legitimate interest in enacting safeguards for the health and safety of Oklahoma women,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

The U.S. Supreme Court in June agreed to hear the state’s appeal of a decision by its highest court to uphold a ruling invalidating as unconstitutional a 2011 measure that limited the use of the abortion-inducing pill known as RU-486 to those “final printed label” uses approved by the FDA.

“Good medical practice and the best interests of the patient often includes drug use that is not displayed in the FPL of that drug and requires physicians to use legally available drugs according to their best knowledge and judgment,” state court Judge Donald L. Worthington in Oklahoma City ruled in 2011.

The case is Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice v. Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy, CV-2013-1640, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, District Court (Oklahoma City).

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