The Edmond Sun

November 4, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court dismisses state appeal

Edmond lawmaker plans to amend bill

James Coburn
Special to The Sun

EDMOND — A 2012 ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court will remain in place to prohibit a state law limiting drug-induced abortions.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt that the court review the case, Cline v. OK Coalition for Reproductive Justice.

The U.S. Supreme Court did not comment on dismissing the appeal.

House Bill 1970 was authored in 2011 by Grau and state Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, to require women to undergo an examination by their physicians before an abortion-inducing drug is prescribed to them. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the legislation.

“Given the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s overly broad and erroneous interpretation of the Oklahoma law, the U.S. Supreme Court had little choice but to dismiss the case,” Pruitt said. “We are disappointed with the state court’s interpretation of a law that was crafted by the Legislature to protect Oklahoma women from potentially deadly protocols that have never been approved by the FDA.”

“Our legislation established critical safeguards for women and sensible regulations on the use of powerful and potentially dangerous medicines,” said Treat in April when the lawmakers first asked the court to review the state ruling.

The legislation would have required Federal Drug Administration rules from 2000 be followed for patient safety and care purposes, said Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down HB 1970 last year as being an undue burden for women. Critics of the legislation said forcing doctors and patients to follow the 2000 FDA protocol effectively bans the use of chemically induced abortions in the state, thus further restricting access to abortions.

“We sought review of the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court accepted that and they sent a couple of questions to the state Supreme Court,” Grau said.

The state Supreme Court read the law as to ban all chemical abortions in the state of Oklahoma, said Grau, who disagreed with the court’s interpretation of the law.

“They certainly misunderstood and misrepresented the legislative intent of that law,” Grau said.

Oklahoma lawmakers have a duty to protect patients and ensure the safe practice of medicine in the state, he said. So Grau intends to introduce amendments to the bill before the state Legislature to clarify the definition of the law.

“We’ve seen cases out of Ohio, out of Texas that have upheld these types of laws or we think will uphold these types of laws,” Grau said. “I bet the U.S. Supreme Court does in-depth review of these types of restrictions in the next couple of years.”

Legislative support of HB 1970 puts their own ideology ahead of the expertise and sound medical judgment of physicians, who know better than politicians what their patients need, said Martha Skeeters, president of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, a plaintiff in the case.

“We urge the Oklahoma Legislature to stop passing unconstitutional laws meant to punish women trying to exercise their constitutional rights,” Skeeters said. | 341-2121