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Oklahoma Emergency Contraception Age Law Voided by Judge

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- An Oklahoma judge voided a law requiring proof of age for the purchase of an emergency-contraception drug and a prescription for buyers under 17, one of a series of state legislative efforts nationally to increase the regulation of abortion and contraception.

The Center for Reproductive Rights sued Oklahoma's state board of pharmacy in August seeking to invalidate the measure. The organization argued it violated a woman’s right to contraception under the Oklahoma constitution and that the underlying legislation breached a state law requiring bills to address just a single subject.

Judge Lisa T. Davis in Oklahoma City yesterday struck down the law, signed last year by Governor Mary Fallin, the judge’s law clerk, Charles Scarborough, said today by phone. It's the latest volley in a national fight between abortion-rights advocates and opponents that has included lawsuits over state legislative attempts to shorten the amount of time during which women can legally terminate a pregnancy and efforts to require doctors who perform those procedures to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic.

“Oklahoma’s restrictions on emergency contraception are blatantly discriminatory and a clear violation of the state’s constitutional protections against abuses of power by the legislature,” David Brown, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.

Illegal

Davis agreed the legislation violated the single-subject rule, “a state constitutional rule designed to prevent abuses of power by the legislature,” according to the statement by the abortion rights group. She had blocked its enforcement on Aug. 19.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the medication’s use for all women of “child-bearing potential” on June 20, about three weeks after Fallin signed the state’s measure into law.

The bill initially addressed only health insurance benefit forms. It was amended to include the emergency contraception-related rules, the Reproductive Rights Center said.

The New York-based group sued on behalf of the mother of a teenage girl and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, an advocacy group.

Diane Clay and Aaron Cooper, spokesmen for Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt, didn't immediately reply to an e-mailed request for comment on the decision.

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

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrew Harris in federal court in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net; Dawn McCarty in Wilmington, Delaware, at dmccarty@bloomberg.net.

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

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