District Judge Donald Worthington permanently blocked the law, known as HB 1970, which if implemented “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 medication for other purposes. According to the lawsuit, 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.”
Worthington ruled last Friday that banning the use of abortion inducing drugs is “an unconstitutional law in violation of the fundamental rights of women to privacy and bodily integrity…so completely at odds with the standard that governs the practice of medicine that [the bill] can serve no purpose other than to prevent women from obtaining abortions and to punish and discriminate against those women who do.”
Republicans say the purpose of the law was to protect patients and improve safety by banning drugs not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. According to Alex Weintz, a spokesman for Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, “House Bill 1970 seeks to protect women by requiring that abortion providers dispense abortion-inducing drugs only in ways tested and approved by the Food and Drug Administration,” but that’s plainly untrue. If Republicans were really concerned about the safety of these drugs, they would have banned them entirely instead of allowing them to be used for other purposes besides inducing abortions. Secondly, over one million women across the country use the drug known as mifepristone, which has been used to safely end early pregnancies for over a decade since the FDA approved of the drug in 2000. So if this law was meant to protect the safety of women from unapproved drugs, why is mifepristone a banned drug under this law? Clearly, Republicans only had one goal in mind when they passed this bill. They wanted to ban women from having abortions safely and force them to go through expensive and riskier surgical procedures to get one. So this law was definitely not about women’s health.
The decision to strike down this ridiculous law is a good move, and marks yet another victory for women’s rights in Oklahoma. Last month, a personhood bill that would have banned abortion entirely by declaring that life begins at conception died in the legislature. Hopefully more victories will follow in other states as well.