A judge in Oklahoma struck down a state law that required physicians to follow the label instructions when they prescribe abortion-inducing drugs. The ruling says that limiting the use of these drugs is not constitutional since it did not apply to other medication.
Oklahoma's law requires that abortifacient drugs such as Mifeprex (mifepristone) be administered under the protocols of the FDA.
Critics of the law, however, said that the law is not favorable to women because the dosage is higher compared with what is needed. It also required women to go to doctors multiple times.
The suit argues that the law prohibited the off-label use of abortion-inducing drugs, which unconstitutionally and purposefully limit the nonsurgical options for abortion in Oklahoma.
Health regulators approved the use of mifepristone in 2000 through the first seven months of pregnancy. The drug is prescribed to be used along with another drug misoprostol but since the approval of the FDA, clinical trials have showed that the drug is effective when administered in smaller doses and for two weeks longer in the pregnancy.
Opponents contend that the Oklahoma law forces doctors to treat women in an outdated manner that is more expensive, less safe and less effective compared with the methods that physicians currently use. Those who support the law, on the other hand, contend that the restrictions protect the safety and health of the women.
Deputy Solicitor General Mithun Mansinghani said that the statute was adopted over concerns for the health and safety of women. He justified the adherence of the law to FDA protocols by citing the death of at least six women in the U.S. who died after they were administered the drugs.
Judge Patricia Parrish on Monday invalidated the law, which was approved by the legislature and signed by Gov. Mary Fallin last year. The governor expressed her disappointment with the decision.
"It is disappointing to see a judge strike down this law which was written by the Legislature to specifically comply with the Supreme Court's guidance on this important issue," Fallin said.
Elizabeth Nash, from the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks reproductive health policy, said that the ruling means that women in Oklahoma can access abortion methods that are best for them.
Texas, Ohio and North Dakota also have laws that limit or ban the off-label use of abortion-inducing drugs.
Photo: Kathea Pinto | Flickr