Oklahoma Judge Blocks Abortion Law from Taking Effect

October 19, 2011 - 1:12 PM

Oklahoma City (AP) - An Oklahoma County judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked a new law from taking effect that restricts how physicians can treat women with abortion-inducing drugs.

District Judge Daniel Owens issued the ruling after a conference call with attorneys for both sides.

The judge's temporary injunction prevents House Bill 1970 from taking effect on Nov. 1. The measure requires doctors to follow strict guidelines and protocols authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and prohibits off-label uses of abortion-inducing drugs.

"We're thrilled that women in Oklahoma will continue to be able to access medical care that accounts for scientific evidence, sound medical judgment and advancements in medicine," said Michelle Movahed, an attorney for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which challenged the law on behalf of Nova Health Systems, a Tulsa reproductive health care facility, and Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, a nonprofit abortion rights group.

Movahed argued during a hearing Tuesday that off-label uses of drugs are common and that the law is bad for women's health.

Attorneys for the state contend that drugs used to perform abortions are dangerous and should be used in strict accordance with FDA guidelines.

"To date, at least eight American women have died from mifepristone abortions," Assistant Attorney General Victoria Tindall wrote in the state's response to the center's lawsuit. "The dangerous risks of mifepristone demand strict adherence to the FDA-approved protocol. Off-label use of mifepristone is deadly, and the necessity of the amendatory language in HB 1970 - and Oklahoma's compelling interest - is obvious."

Movahed has said similar laws approved in North Dakota and Ohio have been delayed pending legal challenges.