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Supreme Court tosses abortion drug appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court has dismissed the case concerning Oklahoma’s restrictions on the use of the abortion drug RU-486, Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, as improvidently granted. That means the court won’t entertain Oklahoma’s plea to reinstate a law restricting doctors’ use of drugs rather than surgery to end pregnancies.

Cline arose out of an Oklahoma law that required doctors to follow Food and Drug Administration dosage and other requirements for the medical abortion pill. The FDA adopted those requirements in 2000. But the medical profession had since refined the procedure and actually lowered the dosage and allowed women in some instances to complete the pill regimen at home.  In effect, then, the Oklahoma law was forcing  doctors to take steps they now deem unnecessary and in some cases dangerous, with the result that far fewer doctors would prescribe the drug.

An Oklahoma trial court judge threw out the law, finding it “so completely at odds with the standard that governs the practice of medicine that it can serve no purpose other than to prevent women from obtaining abortions and to punish and discriminate against those women who do.” The state Supreme Court upheld that decision without analysis, saying in just three short paragraphs that “this matter is controlled by the United States Supreme Court decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey . . . [a decision that] remains binding on this court until and unless the United States Supreme Court holds to the contrary.”

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