The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a state law restricting the way in which the abortion pill is used.
The 7-1 decision rejected H.B. 2684, a five-year-old piece of legislation signed into law by then-Governor Mary Fallin.
In 2000, the FDA approved a medical abortion protocol that involves administering two drugs, several days apart. The drugs are approved for use up to 49 days in pregnancy.
One year later, 96% of medical abortions were not following this protocol, the Oklahoman reported.
In 2014, Oklahoma enacted a law requiring doctors to follow the on-label protocol for medical abortions. The Center for Reproductive Rights sued, saying the regulation posed an undue burden on women and arguing that no other state had this requirement.
In 2016, the FDA endorsed an off-label usage of the pills. a medical abortion can be sought three weeks later into the pregnancy. Women are given a smaller dose of the drug and are permitted to self-administer it rather than take it in the presence of a physician.
Critics of the off-label use argued that women faced greater risks of complications – including serious bleeding – from using the medication further into pregnancy.
The state Supreme Court disagreed, calling it “unimaginable that the FDA would revise and update a protocol to one less safe or less effective than the original it approved 16 years earlier.”
The court ruled that the Oklahoma regulation “places a substantial obstacle in the path of women’s choice and places an undue burden on the woman’s rights,” according to the Associated Press.
The Center for Reproductive Rights welcomed the court’s decision as a victory.
Senate President Pro-Tem Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City), decried the ruling, saying the law was a reasonable effort to protect women’s health and safety.
“This measure was intended to protect the health and safety of women who sought a medication abortion by requiring the abortionist to follow the instructions on the pill bottle,” he said, according to The Oklahoman.
The abortion pill law was one of several abortion restrictions enacted by Oklahoma in recent years.
Last week, the state enacted a law requiring physicians to notify women seeking drug-induced abortions that a reversal procedure is available if they change their after taking their first of the two pills in the abortion regimen.