Oklahoma Judge: Restrictions on Emergency Contraception Violate State Constitution

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Oklahoma women will continue to have same access to safe and effective emergency contraception as other women across the U.S.
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(PRESS RELEASE) Late yesterday, an Oklahoma district court judge permanently struck down an unconstitutional state law restricting women’s access to emergency contraception.

Judge Lisa Davis ruled from the bench during a January 23 hearing, finding that the law clearly violates the state’s “single-subject rule,” a state constitutional rule designed to prevent abuses of power by the legislature by prohibiting politicians from addressing unrelated issues in a single law. 

HB 2226, which was signed into law in May 2013, primarily focused on regulating health insurance benefit forms until it was later amended to include an unrelated and discriminatory provision requiring all women to prove their age in order to obtain Plan B One-Step and generic emergency contraceptives and requiring those under 17 to have a prescription to obtain them. 

Said David Brown, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Oklahoma’s restrictions on emergency contraception are blatantly discriminatory and a clear violation of the state’s constitutional protections against abuses of power by the legislature.

“This unconstitutional provision was nothing more than an attempt by hostile politicians to stand in the way of science and cast aside their state’s constitution to block women’s access to safe and effective birth control.

“We hope the court’s ruling sends yet another strong message to politicians in Oklahoma that these underhanded tactics are as unconstitutional and deceptive as they are harmful to women in their state.” 

Yesterday’s ruling adds to the long list of court decisions blocking laws passed by the Oklahoma Legislature in violation of the state’s single-subject rule, with the Oklahoma Supreme Court having struck down five different laws in the last five years on those grounds.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit in August 2013 on behalf of Jo Ann Mangili, an Oklahoma mother of a teen daughter, and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, a membership organization dedicated to promoting reproductive justice through education, empowerment, and advocacy. 

The Center’s legal challenge argued that the law not only violated the Oklahoma Constitution’s “single-subject rule,” but also discriminated against Oklahoma women by imposing arbitrary and unjustified restrictions on birth control.

Following a decade-long legal battle led by the Center for Reproductive Rights and a federal court order, the FDA finally approved a widely-used brand of emergency contraception—Plan B One-Step—for unrestricted, over the counter sale on June 20, 2013. The product has been made available in the family planning aisle of pharmacy and grocery store shelves across the country since August 2013, including Oklahoma, to women of all ages.

The Center for Reproductive Rights represents the plaintiffs in Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice v. Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy along with Anne Zachritz in Oklahoma City and Martha Hardwick of the Hardwick Law Office in Pauls Valley, Okla.