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Court Rules Oklahoma Restrictions on Medication Abortion Can Take Effect

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The ruling is the second this week to allow an anti-abortion restriction to take effect beginning November 1.

A district court judge ruled Wednesday that Oklahoma’s restrictions on medication abortion can take effect November 1.

HB 2684 prohibits the off-label use of the drug RU-486 (or mifepristone) and bans all medication abortions after 49 days of pregnancy. Attorneys from the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) challenged the law, arguing it should be blocked because it unconstitutionally forces physicians to treat patients seeking medication abortion according to a decades-old method that is less safe, less effective, and more expensive than the evidence-based methods most doctors use.

Because the law bans all medication abortions after 49 days of pregnancy, CRR argued, it will force patients to undergo a surgical procedure when they otherwise would have the option of a safe abortion using medications alone.

Oklahoma District Court Judge Roger Stuart, in a hearing last week on CRR’s request to block the law, announced from the bench that he intended to allow the law to take effect.

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Wednesday’s order makes that announcement final.

“This ruling endorses sham restrictions passed under false pretenses to deny doctors the ability to prescribe certain kinds of care and women a safe option when they have decided to end a pregnancy,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement following the order.

HB 2684 is the third time in the past four years Oklahoma politicians have passed legislation restricting access to medication abortion. Lawmakers in 2011 passed a measure that would have effectively banned the method.

That law was eventually struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in a decision the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review. Oklahoma lawmakers passed HB 2684 in response to that legal defeat.

Wednesday’s ruling is the second loss this month for reproductive rights advocates in the state. Oklahoma County District Court Judge Bill Graves last week ruled that SB 1848, which mandates that all reproductive health-care clinics have a physician with admitting privileges at local hospitals, could take effect November 1.

Attorneys from the Center for Reproductive Rights filed an emergency appeal with the Oklahoma Supreme Court to block the admitting privileges ruling and said in a statement they are planning an emergency appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court blocking Wednesday’s order on medication abortion restrictions.

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