Girls under 17 can purchase abortion-inducing drug without prescription, OK judge rules

The New York-based Center for Reproductive rights accused the state of passing "unjustified restrictions on birth control."
By Thaddeus Baklinski

By Thaddeus Baklinski

OKLAHOMA CITY, January 24, 2014 ( – An Oklahoma judge has struck down a state law that required girls under 17 to have a prescription and show identification in order to buy the abortifacient “emergency contraceptive” known as Plan B One-Step.

Oklahoma County District Judge Lisa Davis had already issued a temporary injunction to block the law after it was approved by Republican Governor Mary Fallin last year. Davis ruled that, because the law was passed as part of a larger bill regulating health insurance forms, it violated the state’s “single-subject rule.”

But Oklahoma Solicitor General David Wyrick said in the bill’s defense that the unorthodox method of passage was due to its urgency.

“The language was added to an existing bill late in the 2013 legislative session because the deadline for filing new legislation had passed,” Wyrick told AP at the time that Judge Davis issued the temporary injunction. “There is no evidence that this was logrolled into passage. It was just a matter of legislative necessity.”

Attorney General Scott Pruitt said the law was passed in response to the federal government’s approval of Plan B, often called the “morning-after pill,” for unrestricted over-the-counter sales to women and girls of all ages.

“The law simply keeps requirements the same as they have been for more than a decade, requiring those under age 17 to have a prescription to buy Plan B emergency contraceptives,” Diane Clay, spokeswoman for Attorney General Scott Pruitt, said in a statement.

The ruling came as the result of a lawsuit file by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) on behalf of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, and Jo Ann Mangili and her 15 year old daughter.

CRR claimed that the law was unconstitutional in its attempt to combine unrelated measures in a single bill, a tactic known as "logrolling," and also "discriminated against Oklahoma women by imposing arbitrary and unjustified restrictions on birth control."

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“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, a CRR staff attorney, said in a statement.

“This unconstitutional provision was nothing more than an attempt by hostile politicians to stand in the way of science and cast aside their state’s constitution to block women’s access to safe and effective birth control,” he said. “We hope the court’s ruling sends yet another strong message to politicians in Oklahoma that these underhanded tactics are as unconstitutional and deceptive as they are harmful to women in their state.”

Plan B, first approved for use in 1999, is intended to prevent pregnancy by flooding the female body with the synthetic hormone levonorgestrel to prevent ovulation. But many experts say the drug can also impede the implantation of a fertilized egg by altering the lining of the uterus, causing a chemical abortion.

The drug required a prescription until 2006, when it was made available over-the-counter to adult women.

Studies have shown that the "morning-after" pill entices younger women to engage in more risky sexual behavior because the drug is available to them. A study in Britain found that after the UK started offering “Plan B” free to teens, teenage STD rates climbed 12 percent, even as teen pregnancy rates remained unchanged.

A study conducted in Washington state found that making “Plan B” available over-the-counter led to a statistically significant increase in gonorrhea diagnoses among both males and females there, while having no impact on abortion or unplanned birth rates.

A report from Sweden said abortion rates have continued to rise despite the morning-after-pill’s explosive popularity, a trend the head of the Swedish Association of Midwives called “very strange and saddening.”

European pharmaceutical companies and the FDA announced last year that the morning-after pill is "completely ineffective" for women who weigh more than 176 pounds, and becomes noticeably less effective at preventing pregnancy when a woman is just 165 pounds.

The report stated that, "Weight data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that, at 166 pounds, the average American woman is too heavy to use these pills effectively."

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