Ignoring State Court Decisions Clearly Protecting Women’s Rights to Non-Surgical Abortion, Oklahoma State Officials Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court
(PRESS RELEASE) In an attempt to overturn decisions by a state district judge and all nine justices on the Oklahoma Supreme Court protecting women’s rights to the use of medication to terminate a pregnancy, state officials have now appealed the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court. Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights: “Both a state district judge and all nine justices on the Oklahoma Supreme Court have previously affirmed what has been the established law of the land for more than 40 years: that the right to reproductive choice is fundamental and protected under the United States Constitution. “We’re confident, despite state officials’ relentless hostility toward women’s rights and health and their refusal to heed the well-founded judgments of these courts, that this campaign to deny women access to essential reproductive health care will fail at this stage as well.” The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a legal challenge, Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice et al., v. Terry Cline, et al., in October 2011 to block a state law that would have banned any off-label use of medications for abortion or treatment of ectopic pregnancy-while explicitly allowing off-label use of the same medications for other purposes. According to the lawsuit filed in Oklahoma state court, the law not only jeopardizes women’s health by preventing doctors from using safe and effective methods available, but also undermines women’s ability to exercise the full range of their fundamental constitutionally protected reproductive rights. The law was temporarily blocked in October 2011 and then permanently struck down by a district court judge in May 2012. A unanimous decision from the Oklahoma Supreme Court in December 2012 upheld the lower court’s decision to strike the law as unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution. The Center filed its legal challenge on behalf of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the availability of the full range of reproductive health care services to women throughout the state, and Nova Health Systems, a non-profit reproductive health care facility located in Tulsa. Michelle Movahed, staff attorney at the Center, represents the plaintiffs in the case along with co-counsel attorneys Anne Zachritz in Oklahoma City, OK and Martha Hardwick in Tulsa, OK.