OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma County judge temporarily halted an anti-abortion law aimed at medication abortions from going into effect on November 1.
SB 614 is a law that requires doctors to tell their patients that there’s a procedure that can “reverse” the effects of medication abortion using hormones. If doctors refuse, they could be charged with a felony.
Authors of the law said it’s intended to give women who decide to go forward with a medication abortion a chance to change their minds.
“We believe women ought to know that this option is out there,” said State Senator Julie Daniels (R) Wednesday on the phone. She co-authored the bill along with Rep. Mark Lepak (R).
But opponents argue it violates doctors’ ethics and First Amendment rights.
“Physicians should not be forced to speak a government mandated message providing misleading information to their patients,” said Gail Deady, the staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights. They’re working with the Tulsa Women’s Clinic to try to stop the law from ever taking effect in the state. “This law is also part of another national strategy to use physicians as mouthpieces for government mandated messages that are designed to discourage or impede a woman’s ability to have an abortion.”
Sen. Daniels said she’s surprised there’s objection because it’s not a required recommendation.
“No one is requiring someone who performs abortions to say this will work. No one is requiring them to say, ‘I think it will work and I think you should consider this if you change your mind.’ All you have to do is notify and then you’re hands off,” Daniels said. “We believe women ought to know that this option is out there.”
Daniels and proponents of the law argue that women can take hormones that will reverse the effects of the first of two pills taken in a medication abortion before the second one is taken.
An attorney with the state argued there are studies that support the claims, however, the medication has not been FDA approved.
“This would be an off-label use,” Daniels said.
Opponents of the bill said those studies have either been debunked or are anecdotal.
“There is no evidence-based studies and no current medical evidence that’s reliable that suggests that the first pill in the two pill regimen can be reversed,” Deady said.
Tamya Cox-Toure with Planned Parenthood Great Plains called it a dangerous law that sets a dangerous precedent for interference into what should be a trusted relationship between a doctor and patient.
“Medical experts from ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, as well as the American Medical Associations, all say this is not a thing, this is junk science, and because it’s junk science we should not be forcing doctors to tell patients about this unreal procedure,” Cox-Toure said.
That’s one reason why the injunction was filed as a violation of physicians’ rights to freedom of speech.
“This law is also part of another national strategy to use physicians as mouthpieces for government mandated messages that are designed to discourage or impede a woman’s ability to have an abortion,” Deady said.
The judge said he would need to hear more evidence on both sides before making a decision on the case. The injunction will remain in place pending the ongoing litigation.
In a statement following the decision, Attorney General Mike Hunter said, “The judge didn’t rule on the merits of the case and only decided to retain the status quo moving forward, pending more evidence. The state remains committed to defending this law that requires doctors to inform women they can opt to reverse the process of a medical abortion.”
The next hearing conference is scheduled for April 2020.