May 15, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - An Oklahoma judge has blocked the implementation of a law banning the off-label use of abortion-inducing drugs.
H.B. 1970, the Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act, passed by overwhelming majorities in the Oklahoma House (83-5) and Senate (39-6). It would have forbidden doctors from prescribing that drugs be used in any way other than those explicitly approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when prescribed to induce medical abortions, such as changing the recommended dosage. It also required that doctors examine patients personally before dispensing abortifacient drugs, effectively banning the practice of so-called “webcam abortions,” in which women seeking abortions consult doctors electronically.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the law would have banned the use of the RU-486 abortion drug, which has been linked to 14 deaths, 612 hospitalizations, and over 2207 medical complications in the United States.
However, the law allowed those drugs to be prescribed off-label to treat conditions other than abortion. This inconsistency, Oklahoma District Judge Donald Worthington ruled on Friday, was “so completely at odds with the standard that governs the practice of medicine that [the bill] can serve no purpose other than to prevent women from obtaining abortions and to punish and discriminate against those women who do.”
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The ruling won praise from Center for Reproductive Rights president and CEO Nancy Northup, whose organization filed the original legal challenge against the bill for Nova Health Systems and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice. Northup said Monday that the decision “sends a strong message to anti-choice legislators in Oklahoma that their disingenuous tactics for restricting access to abortion and their hostility toward women’s fundamental rights will not stand.”
But Americans United for Life president and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest said she believes the ruling is part of the “true war on women – a war that puts the agenda of the abortion industry ahead of the needs of women.”
“It is astounding that the judge would find that allowing abortion facilities to hand out sometimes deadly drugs without regard to the safest protocols is somehow a state constitutional right,” she said Monday. “Ironically, this isn’t a ‘right’ for women; it is a ‘right’ created for abortion providers, allowing them to perform abortions in any unsafe manner they desire.”
H.B. 1970 co-author Rep. Randy Grau (R-Edmond) said there “are a lot of problems with the judge’s ruling” and insisted that the drugs were being administered contrary to FDA-approved protocols.
The office of Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt has confirmed that it will appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.