Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Judge temporarily blocks Oklahoma law limiting over-the-counter sales of ‘morning-after pill’

by Kirsten Andersen

OKLAHOMA CITY, August 20, 2013 ( – An Oklahoma law requiring girls under 17 to have a prescription to buy emergency contraceptives has been temporarily blocked by an Oklahoma judge.

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) claimed the law violates the state constitution’s one-subject rule barring the passage of multiple unrelated requirements in a single bill, a tactic known as ‘logrolling.’

On Monday, District Judge Lisa Davis granted a temporary restraining order preventing enforcement of the law until the matter is resolved.

In addition to requiring prescriptions for younger teens, the law required girls and women 17 and older to show identification in order to buy abortifacient drug Plan B. It was passed by bipartisan majority as part of a larger bill regulating health insurance forms, and would have gone into effect on Thursday.

CRR attorney David Brown argued that left lawmakers with a “forced, all-or-nothing choice.”

But Solicitor General David Wyrick said the bill’s unorthodox method of passage was due to its urgency.

“The language was added to an existing bill late in the 2013 legislative session because the deadline for filing new legislation had passed,” Wyrick told the AP. “There is no evidence that this was logrolled into passage. It was just a matter of legislative necessity.”

Attorney General Scott Pruitt said the law was passed in response to the federal government’s approval of Plan B, often called the ‘morning-after pill,’ for unrestricted over-the-counter sales to women and girls of all ages.

“The law simply keeps requirements the same as they have been for more than a decade, requiring those under age 17 to have a prescription to buy Plan B emergency contraceptives,” Diane Clay, spokeswoman for Attorney General Scott Pruitt, said in a statement.

She told the AP that Pruitt was “disappointed” with the ruling.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is pursuing a permanent injunction against the Oklahoma law. Their lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and Jo Ann Mangili, the mother of a 15-year-old girl.

Plan B, first approved for use in 1999, is intended to prevent pregnancy by flooding the female body with hormones to prevent ovulation. But many experts say the drug can also impede the implantation of a fertilized egg by altering the lining of the uterus, causing a chemical abortion.

The drug required a prescription until 2006, when it was made available over-the-counter to adult women.

But in April, Judge Edward Korman of New York ordered it sold over-the-counter without age restrictions. Initially, the Obama administration had appealed the controversial ruling, but in June, they dropped their appeal and the FDA gave the drug the green light for unrestricted over-the-counter sales.

This was a shift from 2011, when Obama had suggested that restricting Plan B to those 17 years old and older was "common sense."

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