(REVISED 4.23.2020) This lawsuit challenges an Oklahoma law forcing doctors to tell patients that medication abortion (abortion by pills) can be “reversed”—a false claim unsupported by scientific evidence. This false information must be relayed to the patient 72 hours before their medication abortion appointment, or physicians can be charged with a felony.
In addition to conveying this false information orally, abortion providers must also inform patients of a website and 24-hour hotline for Heartbeat International’s “Abortion Pill Reversal Network”. Providers must also post signage in their health centers with the network’s contact information, and directly give it to patients again following their appointment. Physicians who violates the law are guilty of a felony, and clinics will face a $10,000 fine per day for failure to display the required signs.
The lawsuit argues that this law violates the Oklahoma constitution’s free speech protections by forcing physicians to convey false information and non-medical statements with which they disagree. Just last term, the U.S. Supreme Court held in National Institute of Family & Life Advocates v. Becerra that the government cannot regulate the speech of medical professionals to advance controversial ideas or to discriminate based on the content and/or viewpoint of the speaker.
Plaintiff(s): Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic, LLC, Alan Braid, M.D.
Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP; Walding & Patton
Summary: The Center filed a lawsuit in state court on September 25, 2019, challenging an Oklahoma law that requires abortion providers tell patients multiple times that a medication abortion may be “reversible” and to post the same misinformation in 54-point font in any waiting or consultation room used by medication abortion patients. The Center is challenging the law primarily on free speech grounds. On October 23, the trial court granted a temporary injunction and the law is now blocked while the case proceeds. The case is currently in discovery.