Oklahoma Judge Overturns Law Limiting Unsafe Abortion Drug

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 19, 2011   |   4:12PM   |   Oklahoma City, OK

An Oklahoma judge has issued an injunction temporarily halting enforcement of a pro-life law that would limit the usage of the dangerous abortion drug RU 486, also known as mifepristone.

Oklahoma County District Judge Daniel Owens issued the ruling after the pro-abortion New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights challenged Oklahoma’s law, which was slated to go into effect November 1. the lawsuit was filed on behalf of Nova Health Systems, the operator of an abortion business in Tulsa that frequently challenges pro-life laws the Oklahoma state legislature approves.

Assistant Attorney General Victoria Tindall represented the state and said the law should be upheld “for the protection of women” from a drug that has killed dozens of women worldwide, including 14 in the United States, and injured more than 2,200 women in the U.S. alone, according to April 2001 FDA figures.

“These drugs are not safe,” she said, according to AP. “They do need to be administered by the protocols that have been tested and approved by the FDA.”

Michelle Movahed, an attorney for the pro-abortion legal group, maintained that the drugs were safe, and calling efforts by state legislators to protect women form the abortion drug by making abortion centers abide by FDA protocols “medical care that’s sub-optimal.”

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed the bill into law. The measure, the Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act (HB 1970) received approval in the Senate by an overwhelming majority of 39-6. The bill, based upon American United for Life’s model of the same name, previously passed the Oklahoma House 83-5 and Governor Mary Fallin is expected to sign it into law.

HB 1970 requires that abortion providers dispense abortion-inducing drugs only in the way tested and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and outlined in the drug’s label. These requirements will prevent the dangerous “off-label” use of abortion-inducing drugs that have killed at least seven women in the United States alone—an “off-label” use that Planned Parenthood readily admits, on its website and in court documents, to using.

Representative Randy Grau and Senator Greg Treat introduced the bill for the purpose of protecting women from the proven dangers inherent in abortion drugs.  The bill requires that physicians examine a woman before dispensing an abortion-inducing drug to assess the stage of the pregnancy and to ensure that she does not have any hidden conditions making the drug even more dangerous for her.

Americans United for Life attorney Mailee Smith commented on the legal battle over the law.

“In the United States alone, at least fourteen women have died following use of RU-486.  Eight of those women died from sepsis (bacterial infection), and in each of those cases the woman had been told to use the RU-486 drug regimen in a manner unapproved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Of the remaining deaths, two women died from ruptured ectopic pregnancy—a condition that could have been treated had the woman been properly examined prior to receiving the drugs,” she explained. “In sum, it is possible that at least 10 of the 14 deaths could have been prevented if the abortion providers had screened women and provided the drugs according to the way the FDA has instructed.”

“To that end, the law in Oklahoma simply requires that 1) abortion drugs be dispensed only by a physician; 2) the physician examine the woman prior to providing the drugs; and 3) the physician follow the guidelines agreed to by the FDA and the drug manufacturer for dispensing the drugs, which is outlined explicitly in the drug’s label (and sometimes referred to as the “FDA protocol” for administering abortion drugs),” she continued.

“CRR has argued also that the “off-label” use of abortion drugs (like RU-486) is safer than following the FDA’s protocol.  Yet there are no peer-reviewed studies demonstrating that off-label use of abortion drugs is safe.  To the contrary, studies have demonstrated that surgical abortions have less frequent complications, and by Planned Parenthood’s own admission, off-label use of abortion drugs has come at the cost of women’s lives and “higher-than-expected” consequences to health,” she concluded.

Off-label usage of the abortion drug has been a concern for years and Planned Parenthood previously told women using it to use the drug vaginally instead of orally, as recommended by the FDA. That causes the introduction of bacteria that resulted in lethal infections causing their deaths.

Although Planned Parenthood eventually changed its protocol to follow the FDA suggestion to take the drug orally, it still dispenses improper doses of the drug that could still place women at risk.

Rather than backing down from dispensing the abortion drug, Planned Parenthood is increasingly giving it to women, and a 2010 survey of Planned Parenthood abortion centers finds a higher number are giving women the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug. The number of locations dispensing the dangerous abortion drug has risen 130 percent since its last national survey, even though the overall number of Planned Parenthood centers is on the decline.

In January 2008, RU 486 maker Danco Laboratories announced approximately 13 percent of all abortions in the United States involve mifepristone — a number that may seem low but it is double the number of women who used the abortion drug in 2001.

The report also showed 57 percent of places that do abortions now have the abortion drug, compared with just 33 percent in 2001. Ultimately, Danco indicated that 840,000 women in the United States have had abortions with its dangerous drug – a number that is very likely over one million in the two and a half years that have passed.

According to FDA reports as of December 2006, there have now been eight known deaths associated with mifepristone in the U.S., nine life-threatening incidents, 116 blood transfusions, and 232 hospitalizations. In total, more than 1,100 women have had medical problems after using the drug as of that date. The Obama administration has not published new totals, which could have well over 1,500 women in the United States alone facing significant problems after using the mifepristone abortion drug.