Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice v. Cline

01.05.2015

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(REVISED 10.23.2019) This lawsuit challenged an Oklahoma law that would have required physicians providing medication abortions to use an obsolete protocol that does not meet the current standard of care and is less safe and more burdensome for patients.

Medication abortion (a combination of the medications mifepristone and misoprostol) is a safe and effective method of ending an early pregnancy via pill, and is the chosen method for more than 50% of all Oklahoma women who have abortions. The challenged law, passed in 2014, would have forced physicians to treat women seeking a medication abortion using an obsolete regimen that has been rejected by doctors, medical experts, leading professional organizations, and the FDA.  As the Court noted, the law would have made Oklahoma the only state in the nation to require the use of such an archaic protocol

The Oklahoma Supreme Court permanently struck down the restriction in 2019. Oklahoma is one of the most restrictive states in the country in terms of abortion access.  Between 2011 and 2019 alone, Oklahoma politicians passed over 20 bills restricting access to abortion and other reproductive health care, with a dozen anti-abortion bills introduced just in 2019.

Plaintiff(s): Nova Health Systems, d/b/a/ Reproductive Services, Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice

Center Attorney(s): Autumn Katz

Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Walding &, Patton, Martha Hardwick 

Summary:

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit in state court challenging the restriction on behalf of Reproductive Services, a non-profit organization providing high-quality and affordable health care services to women in underserved communities, its staff and patients, and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting reproductive justice and ensuring the full range of reproductive healthcare services are available to Oklahoma women, and its members, who include women of reproductive age.

The Center sought a temporary injunction to block the law from going into effect, which the trial court denied, and the Oklahoma Supreme Court subsequently granted.

On August 10, 2015, an Oklahoma state judge found that the restriction violated the Oklahoma state constitution. The State filed an appeal with the Oklahoma Supreme Court on September 23. On February 23, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled against the plaintiffs on the two claims the law had been challenged on, but remanded the case back to the district court for a determination of the law's validity under other constitutional provisions. The State will continue to be barred from enforcing the law while the case proceeds.

Back at the trial court, following a hearing, the district court ruled that the law was unconstitutional on October 6, 2017. The State then filed an appeal with the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which affirmed the trial court's ruling on April 30, 2019. 

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