By Peter J. Smith
COLUMBUS, Ohio, September 29, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A US federal judge overturned an Ohio Law restricting the abortion pill RU-486, calling it “unconstitutionally vague” and that it failed to include a significant health exception. The law had intended to regulate RU-486 (or mifepristone) according to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protocols, which would have made it illegal for doctors to prescribe the drug after the seventh week of pregnancy.
US District Judge Susan Dlott ruled Wednesday in agreement with Planned Parenthood that the law regulating mifepristone was “unconstitutionally vague”, and violated due process rights under the 14th amendment, which “prohibits laws so vague that persons of ordinary intelligence must guess at their meaning.”
The Ohio act (H.B. 126) read “No person shall knowingly give, sell, dispense, administer, otherwise provide, or prescribe RU-486 (mifepristone) to another for the purpose of inducing an abortion . . . unless the person . . . is a physician, the physician satisfies all the criteria established by federal law that a physician must satisfy in order to provide RU-486 (mifepristone) for inducing abortions, and the physician provides the RU-486 (mifepristone) to the other person for the purpose of inducing an abortion in accordance with all provisions of federal law that govern the use of RU-486 (mifepristone) for inducing abortions.”
Dlott declared in her Wednesday decision that “Physicians regulated by the Act, untrained in the law, could not possibly be expected to understand its requirements and prohibitions.”
Dlott also justified her decision on the basis that the law provided no “health exception” for doctors to prescribe RU-486 beyond the FDA guidelines including to women more than seven weeks pregnant. Although Dlott previously held the opinion that all statutes regarding abortion were required to have a “health exception”, the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals clarified on appeal that “an exception is only necessary (and must only cover) circumstances where a statute poses a significant health risk.”
Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, representing the state, contended that the law restricting RU-486 was “sensible and mainstream” and sought to protect women from a drug that may pose serious health risks. According to FDA reports, 8 women have died from RU-486, and there are over 600 reported cases of severe complications, including 513 cases of women requiring surgery with 235 emergency surgeries due to complications from the chemical abortifacient.
However, the case reveals that Planned Parenthood had rushed to save its affiliates in Ohio, since many abortionists do not comply with federal standards regarding the prescription of mifepristone set down by the FDA 6 years ago. In its arguments, Planned Parenthood stated that its doctors used several “evidence protocol” methods, which deviated from FDA standards regarding mifepristone. Ohio’s law intended to regulate RU-486 along the previously established FDA standards and would have forced all doctors to comply with federal law and the FDA standards for prescribing mifepristone.ÂÂ
It is not yet clear whether the state could appeal Dlott’s decision to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, since that Court had already agreed with Dlott’s reasoning on appeal, and had remanded the case to her in case she could salvage parts of the law. Should the state attempt an appeal, it is likely that the fate of the Ohio law would eventually be decided by the US Supreme Court.
LifeSite readers may find a copy of the full ruling here from Howard Bashman’s How Appealing blog:
See Related LifeSite Coverage on RU-486 (Mifepristone)
FDA Reveals 607 Adverse Events Related to RU-486 Abortion, Including Five Deaths