Oklahoma Judge Halts New Abortion Law

OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) – An Oklahoma judge blocked a new law Wednesday that threatens doctors with criminal charges unless they tell patients that medication abortions can be reversed, nine days before the law was scheduled to go into effect.

Oklahoma County District Judge Don Andrews issued a temporary injunction against Senate Bill 614 that requires doctors to tell patients that the abortion can be reversed after they ingest mifepristone, the first of two medications.

The law requires doctors to say mifepristone alone “is not always effective in ending pregnancy” and “it may be possible to reverse its intended effect if the second pill or tablet has not been taken or administered.” It also requires doctors to provide the telephone number for an “abortion pill reversal 24-hour hotline” and website.

(Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP)

Physicians who violate the law could face felony charges, with the patient facing no penalties.

Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the bill into law in April. Democrats and pro-abortion rights advocates have denounced the law as being unsupported by scientific evidence and that the forced disclosures are false.

The plaintiffs in the case are the Tulsa Women’s Reproductive Clinic and owner Dr. Alan Braid, who sued in September. Represented by Weil Gotshal and the Center for Reproductive Rights, the plaintiffs told the judge the law forces doctors to make the forced disclosures at least 72 hours before a patient’s medication abortion appointment and put up mandatory signs in their clinics.

“Forcing doctors to lie to their patients violates their free speech and the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “There is no medical evidence to support so-called ‘abortion reversal,’ and it’s reckless to suggest otherwise. We cannot have patients making healthcare decisions based on false information.”

The state told the judge there have been hundreds of cases where children lived in spite of their mothers taking the first pill. Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said after the ruling the judge failed “to rule on the merits of the case.”

“[The judge] only decided to retain the status quo moving forward, pending more evidence,” Hunter said in a statement. “The state remains committed to defending this law that requires doctors to inform women they can opt to reverse the process.”

The plaintiffs contend the law violates free speech provisions under the Oklahoma Constitution by forcing doctors to lie and give non-medical statements that they disagree with.

The American College for Obstetricians and Gynecologists has publicly stated medical abortion reversal claims “are not based on science and do not meet clinical standards” and discourages the prescribing of progesterone to stop medical abortions.

A federal district judge temporarily blocked a similar law in North Dakota last month filed by the Red River Women’s Clinic, the only abortion clinic in the state. There are four abortion clinics in Oklahoma.

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