Ohio Supreme Court: Abortion Centers Can’t Put Women at Risk With Abortion Drug
by Steven Ertelt
July 1, 2009
Columbus, OH (LifeNews.com) — The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday released a ruling saying abortion centers in the state could no longer put women’s health at risk by not properly using the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug. At issue was a state law making sure abortion businesses follow FDA guidelines when they give out the drug.
The law has been embroiled in a legal battle since an abortion business took it to court following its approval by the state legislature in 2004.
It 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 killed four women in California. It also says the abortion pill can’t be used after the seventh week of pregnancy.
The abortion drug, also known as mifepristone, has been responsible for the deaths of at least a dozen women worldwide and it has injured more than 1,200 women in the United States according to FDA figures from 2007.
The FDA has placed its highest black box warning on the abortion drug because of the deaths and injuries to women and issued dosage guidelines and said it should not be used after 49 days of pregnancy.
Writing for the majority in the Ohio high court’s decision, Justice ODonnell said the law is "not ambiguous" as Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, which sued to block the law from taking effect and claimed it should be declared unconstitutional, claimed.
A lower court declared the law unconstitutional and previous Attorney General Jim Petro appealed the decision to a federal appeals court.
In early 2008 the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asked the Ohio Supreme Court to interpret parts of the law.
Charmaine Yoest, the president of Americans United for Life, told LifeNews.com that "RU-486 has a proven track record of ruining and even ending women’s lives."
"We must put a stop to abortionists’ dangerous, off-label use of this drug. Ohio’s statute is a step in the right direction, and as we argue in our brief, it should be upheld," she said.
Mailee Smith, a staff attorney with AUL, told LifeNews.com, "The argument that abortionists don’t know how to correctly dispense RU 486 is nonsensical. Physicians routinely follow the protocols approved by the FDA and described in manufacturer’s instructions when dispensing other drugs. Ohio’s regulation simply requires that abortionists do this with RU 486."
During the appeals court hearing, the three judge panel from the appellate court wondered why the case was brought to federal courts and said a lawsuit in state courts would have been more appropriate.
An order preventing enforcement of the law remained in effect while the case proceeded.
In April, attorneys representing Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann argued before the Sixth Circuit in favor of the law. They took up the battle to keep the law on the books after pro-abortion Ohio Governor Ted Strickland dropped a previous effort.
Anne Berry Strait, an assistant attorney general, told the judges there is nothing unconstitutional about the law and said abortion advocates just don’t like it.
"Planned Parenthood and its physicians understand exactly what the act does and means," she said.
Planned Parenthood, which came under fire for putting women at risk with the off label use of the abortion drug, complains the law would subject abortion practitioners to fines and possible jail terms for putting women’s health at risk by violating the FDA protocols.
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 killed four women in California. It also says the abortion pill can’t be used after the seventh week of pregnancy.
Pro-life advocates condemned Gov. Strickland’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, then-executive director of Ohio Right to Life, said after Strickland’s decision.
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.
An abortion practitioner who violated the Ohio law protecting women could receive as much as an 18-month prison sentence.
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