U.S. Supreme Court requests information on Oklahoma law limiting use of abortion drugs
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 28, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Supreme Court on Thursday asked for additional information about an Oklahoma law regulating the use of abortion drugs, indicating that they might consider overturning a lower court decision blocking enforcement of the law.
The Abortion-Inducing Drug Safety Act, which was struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in December, enforces FDA guidelines barring vaginal intake of abortion drug RU-486 and limiting its safe use to the first seven weeks (or 49 days) of pregnancy, starting from the woman’s last menstrual period.
It also bans off-label use of abortion drugs and requires abortionists to give women health exams before administering them, in order to confirm how far along she is into pregnancy and screen for health problems which could lead to deadly complications.
The law was passed with wide bipartisan support in the state legislature in 2011, but the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights sued to block it. In 2012, the Oklahoma court ruled that it violated the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
“The challenged measure is facially unconstitutional pursuant to Casey,” the justices wrote. “The mandate of Casey remains binding on this Court until and unless the United States Supreme Court holds to the contrary.”
The Oklahoma court said it had no choice but to “follow the mandate of the United States Supreme Court on matters of federal constitutional law.”
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt then appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Thursday, the Court temporarily returned the case to Oklahoma, requesting additional clarification before they will agree to proceed.
The Court asked the Oklahoma court to decide whether the law “prohibits the use of misoprostol to induce abortions, including the use of misoprostol in conjunction with mifepristone according to a protocol approved by the Food and Drug Administration.” The high court also wants to know if the law bars the use of methotrexate to treat ectopic pregnancies.
“[F]urther proceedings in this case are reserved pending receipt of a response from the Supreme Court of Oklahoma,” the high court said.
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Attorney General Pruitt praised the Court’s action. “This is an extraordinary decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to review the actions of Oklahoma’s Supreme Court, which has consistently misapplied federal law to strike down Oklahoma abortion laws,” Pruitt said. “This law does not ban the use of abortion-inducing drugs, but seeks to protect women from harmful off-label uses.”
Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, also praised the Court for taking what she called “a first step” toward protecting women from unregulated chemical abortion.
“Chemical abortions are dangerous,” Yoest said. “We know that women have died when given such drugs in a casual and unregulated manner.”
“The health risks to women from the under-regulated practices of the abortion industry need to be front and center in our discussion of the abortion industry behavior,” Yoest added. “The Supreme Court has taken a first step toward protecting women and girls from the abortion industry’s callous disregard for their health and safety when using life-ending drugs.”
According to Yoest, the FDA has reported more than 2,200 cases of severe adverse events including hemorrhaging, blood loss requiring transfusions, serious infections, and the deaths of at least 14 women since RU-486 was approved in 2000.
“At least eight of these women died from severe bacterial infections,” said Yoest, “and in every case the woman was instructed by an abortion provider to misuse this dangerous regimen.”
The RU-486 regimen consists of two drugs. The abortion begins with the administration of mifepristone; then, approximately 48 hours, after the unborn child is dead, the mother takes the drug called misoprostol, which causes her to expel the dead child’s body. The last part usually takes place at home.
Despite FDA rules recommending RU-486 be used only within 49 days of a woman’s last menstrual period, National Abortion Federation guidelines encourage abortionists to prescribe RU-486 within 63 days of the last menstrual period – an extra two weeks beyond the FDA’s safety guidelines.
The drug is required by the FDA to be taken orally; however, a number of abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood clinics, have prescribed vaginal administration. This method has been linked to C. sordellii bacterial infections responsible for the deaths of U.S. women taking RU-486.
Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, who authored the Abortion-Inducing Drug Safety Act, told The Washington Post that the high court’s inquiry “confirms my concern all along that the Oklahoma Supreme Court sidestepped the specific issues in this case and the purpose of the bill, which is to protect the health and safety of Oklahoma patients.”