This litigation challenges a law that would impose severe restrictions on physicians’ ability to provide medical care to women seeking pregnancy terminations that serve no legitimate purpose and run afoul of all available medical evidence.
Filing Date: 10/5/2011
Plaintiff(s): Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and Nova Health Systems d/b/a Reproductive Services
Center Attorney(s): Michelle Movahed and David Brown
Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Anne Zachritz (Oklahoma City), Martha Hardwick (Tulsa)
Summary: On October 5, 2011, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a challenge against Oklahoma legislation that imposes severe and arbitrary restrictions on the use of medications to terminate a woman’s pregnancy. Leading health organizations agree that scientific research supports the use of medications as a safe and effective non-invasive treatment option for women who seek abortions and for some women who need treatment for an ectopic pregnancy. By burdening care provided for pregnancy terminations, the new law prevents doctors from providing, and women from receiving, medical treatment according to sound medical judgment, current scientific evidence, and advances in medicine. The Center, on behalf of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and Nova Health Systems, d/b/a Reproductive Services, challenges the law as violating the rights of women, and those who provide care to them, to equal protection of the laws, privacy, bodily integrity, and freedom of speech under the Oklahoma Constitution, as well as the Oklahoma Constitution’s prohibitions against special laws and delegation of legislative authority.
On December 2, 2011, Judge Daniel L. Owens of the Oklahoma County District Court issued a preliminary injunction, temporarily enjoining the enforcement of the new law. On May 11, 2012, Judge Donald Worthington converted this to a permanent injunction, blocking enforcement of the State's restrictions on medication abortions. His ruling recognized bodily integrity and the right to terminate a pregnancy as fundamental rights under the Oklahoma constitution. Furthermore, he wrote that the law is unconstitutional because it is "so completely at odds with the standard that governs the practice of that it can serve no purpose other than to prevent women from obtaining abortions and to punish and discriminate against those women who do."
The Center filed this challenge in the Oklahoma District Court for Oklahoma County.