by Steven Ertelt
February 21, 2007
Columbus, OH (LifeNews.com) — Though Ohio Governor Ted Strickland dropped the state’s efforts to defend a law to protect women from the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug, Attorney General Marc Dann says he will help it. The law has been embroiled in a legal battle ever since an abortion business took it to court.
The abortion drug has been responsible for the deaths of seven women in the U.S. alone and has injured more than 1,100, according to the FDA.
The Ohio legislature passed a law requiring abortion businesses to follow FDA guidelines when using the drug, as off-label usage may have contributed to the women’s deaths.
A lower court declared the law unconstitutional and previous Attorney General Jim Petro appealed the decision to a federal appeals court. But Strickland, a Democrat, said he wouldn’t file papers for the state in the appeal.
Dann says he will defend the law and feels the lower court’s decision was wrong. Though he opposed the law in the state legislature, a representative said his role as the state’s leading attorney is to uphold its laws whether he agrees with them or not.
"He has an obligation as the attorney general to do the job of the attorney general," Jennifer Brindisi, Dann’s spokeswoman, told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The law tells abortion practitioners not to encourage women to use the abortion drug vaginally, which experts say could be responsible for why the RU 486 abortion drug has killed four women in California. It also says the abortion pill can’t be used after the seventh week of pregnancy.
In the initial decision, Judge Susan Dlott ruled that the Ohio law is vague and claims it could put women’s health in jeopardy. She claimed the law is confusing and that abortion practitioners couldn’t be reasonably expected to understand and implement it.
Dann disagrees and says the law is very "specific in both language and intent."
The state previously took the case to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a previous ruling by Dlott preventing the law from being implemented and then sent the case back to her to determine haw far an injunction against it should extend. Dlott issued a second ruling prohibited any enforcement of any part of the law during the appeal process.
The 6th Circuit also ruled that Ohio cannot put in place protections for women on the abortion drug unless it allows exceptions for those who may face a greater health risk having a surgical abortions.
Pro-life advocates condemned the governor’s decision not to pursue the case and said it would hurt women’s health and safety.
"I’m quite disappointed the governor is not going to pursue it," Denise Mackura, executive director of Ohio Right to Life, said afterwards.
But abortion advocates applauded it because they originally took the law to court.
Al Gerhardstein, an attorney for plaintiff Planned Parenthood who represented the abortion business in the lawsuit, called the law something "intended to scare doctors away from providing reproductive health care."
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists filed legal papers supporting the abortion businesses that brought the lawsuit saying that the abortion drug could sometimes be in the best interest of women, despite its numerous health problems.
Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati also supported the law and told LifeNews.com it would ensure that only doctors could prescribe the abortion drug.
The group said the law was important because it made sure abortion businesses followed FDA guidelines which include "a complete medical exam before prescribing RU-486, careful monitoring during the abortion process, and that any physician who provides RU-486 report any serious complications to the state medical board."
An abortion practitioner who violated the Ohio law protecting women could have received as much as an 18 month prison sentence.
The FDA is currently examining why so many women have died from using the abortion drug and has placed its highest black box warning on it.
ACTION: Send your complaints about the Strickland’s decision to Governor Ted Strickland, Riffe Center, 30th Floor, 77 South High Street, Columbus, OH 43215-6108. You can also call (614) 466-3555, fax a letter to (614) 466-9354 or email the governor by going to this web site: https://governor.ohio.gov/Default.aspx?tabid=101.