State District Court Permanently Blocks Oklahoma Restrictions on Medication Abortion Due to Legal Challenge from Center for Reproductive Rights

News Type

Center has challenged eight measures restricting access to reproductive health since 2011
Primary Content

A state district court today permanently blocked  a 2014 Oklahoma measure that restricts a woman’s access to medication abortion—a non-surgical method of ending an pregnancy.

 “Oklahoma women deserve the same access to medication abortion as women in any other state,” said Autumn Katz, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights.  “Today’s ruling elevates science over politics and ensures Oklahoma women can get the care they need when they have made the decision to end a pregnancy.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights challenged Oklahoma’s restrictions on medication abortion in September 2014—restrictions that would force physicians to treat women seeking medication abortion according to an outdated method that is less safe, less effective, and more expensive than the evidence-based methods doctors currently use.  The measure—which was signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin in April 2014—also bans all medication abortions after 49 days of pregnancy, forcing women to undergo a surgical procedure when they otherwise would have the option of a safe abortion using medications alone. 

A state court judge failed to block the measure in late October 2014, but the state Supreme Court stepped in shortly thereafter and blocked the measure from taking effect while the legal challenge continued.  The state Supreme Court failed to permanently block the law in 2016.  Since then, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved an updated label for mifepristone (known as Mifeprex®), a drug used to end an early pregnancy, in order to better reflect current medical practice and years of scientific evidence.

Rather than focusing on policies which improve women’s health, Oklahoma politicians have focused their efforts on restricting access to basic health care services.  Since Governor Fallin took office in 2011, she has signed 19 restrictions on access to reproductive health care services.  The Center for Reproductive Rights has challenged eight of those nineteen measures in the last six years and has a 100% success rate for concluded cases challenging Oklahoma restrictions on reproductive health care services.  Just last year the Oklahoma legislature passed a blatantly unconstitutional measure totally banning abortion by making it a felony for any person to perform or induce an abortion, Governor Fallin vetoed the ban shortly after it arrived on her desk, citing constitutional concerns.

The Center for Reproductive Rights recently issued an updated version of its Evaluating Priorities report with Ibis Reproductive Health, which found that states with the highest number of abortion restrictions tend to have the worst women and children’s health outcomes and fewest supportive policies that would actually advance the health and well-being of families.  Oklahoma has 14 laws restricting access to safe and legal abortion on the books (out of the possible 14 included in the analysis), but only 11 policies (out of the possible 24 included in the analysis) which support the health and well-being of women and children.