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Oklahoma judge lets RU-486 regulations stand

The abortion drug Mifepristone, also known as RU486. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

Oklahoma judge lets RU-486 regulations stand

An Oklahoma district court judge has allowed the state’s law regulating the use of a common abortifacient to take effect Nov. 1, although he temporarily suspended the portions that make abortion providers legally liable.

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) sought to block the law earlier this month, claiming it violates women’s rights and could increase the number of women who choose surgical abortions. The law requires abortionists to adhere to FDA protocol when administering RU-486, one of the most common abortifacient drugs.

“This law is contrary to protecting women’s health and will force doctors to use an outdated and less safe medical procedure,” said CRR attorney Autumn Katz.

Despite criticism, the law’s supporters say it actually protects women by enforcing FDA protocol. While it’s possible the law could increase surgical abortions, legislators crafted the bill to ensure safe administration of the drug, said state Rep. Randy Grau, who sponsored the bill in the state House.

“Abortion supporters often argue that abortion is a ‘safe’ surgical procedure, but then turn around and claim that surgical abortions are more dangerous than the off-label, untested, and unapproved use of RU-486,” he said. “The intent of the law is to protect patients and ensure the safe practice of medicine, especially as it relates to the prescribing of RU-486.The only way to do that is to follow the FDA protocol.”

The FDA protocol prohibits using the drug after the seventh week of pregnancy, a rule many abortionists ignore, according to the National Right to Life. The protocol also requires administering three pills, instead of the one abortionists routinely use, and giving the accompanying misoprostol (used to induce labor) by mouth, not vaginally.

The law, passed earlier this year in Oklahoma’s Republican-controlled legislature, represents a second attempt to regulate chemical abortions in the state. A similar law passed in 2011, but nearly a year ago the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision to strike it down. The court said the 2011 law could have been interpreted to limit all abortifacients or prohibit using methotrexate to abort ectopic pregnancies. Though the original law wasn’t intended to be interpreted so broadly, this year’s law clarifies that it only applies to RU-486, Grau said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Courtney Crandell Courtney is a former WORLD correspondent.

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