Supreme Court Will Consider if Women Can be Protected From Dangerous Abortion Drug

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 11, 2013   |   10:22AM   |   Washington, DC

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider, during its upcoming term, pro-life legislation out of Oklahoma that protects women from the dangerous abortion drug.

With the Planned Parenthood abortion business violating FDA protocols on how the abortion drug should be administered, Oklahoma passed a law requiring abortion business to follow the FDA recommendations, that make an already dangerous abortion drug less dangerous for women.

The mifepristone abortion pill terminates the lives of unborn children, but Oklahoma lawmakers wanted to  at least hold abortion centers accountable for whether they subject women to death or injury as well. As Carrie Severino writes at National Review, now the high court will decide if Oklahoma can do that.

The Supreme Court’s term doesn’t officially begin until the first Monday in October, but in the New York Times last week Linda Greenhouse gave her opening argument to Justice Anthony Kennedy in Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, a case challenging Oklahoma’s regulation of the abortion drug mifepristone, or RU-486.  The law being challenged prevents the use of abortion-inducing drugs except using protocols approved by the FDA.

Greenhouse’s piece is a clear warning to Justice Kennedy that his vote to overturn Section 2 of DOMA last term doesn’t give him lasting liberal cred. She portrays him as a results-driven activist looking for an opportunity to undercut or even overturn Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the landmark abortion-rights decision he helped write, but Greenhouse’s column puts Kennedy on notice of how he will be treated by the liberal media if he doesn’t toe their line in this term’s controversial cases.

While I disagree with Greenhouse’s assessment of the merits of Cline, she is right that it will turn on Kennedy’s vote. And perhaps the only thing she and I have in common is a distrust of how Kennedy will vote in any one case.

Cline gives the Court the opportunity to clarify the ambiguous “undue burden” test Casey applied to regulations of abortion. Given Kennedy’s affection for Casey, there is little likelihood the Court would use this opportunity to overturn that decision, but it could give some a content to the characteristically amorphous standard conceived by Kennedy, Souter, and O’Connor in their plurality opinion. And, from my perspective at least, it seems evident that only an incredibly broad reading of “undue burden” would suffice to overturn the Oklahoma law. After all, it simply adopts the determination of the FDA and still leaves ample other methods of abortion open to women. Expanding the right to privacy beyond the decision to abort the child, to protect even the selection of a particular chemical compound, is probably a step too far, even for Justice Kennedy.

“Chemical abortions are dangerous. We know that women have died when given such drugs in a casual and unregulated manner,” said Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest.

She continued: “The health risks to women from the under-regulated practices of the abortion industry need to be front and center in our discussion of the abortion industry behavior. The Supreme Court has taken a first step toward protecting women and girls from the abortion industry’s callous disregard for their health and safety when using life-ending drugs.”



The FDA has reported that, since RU-486 was approved in September 2000, more than 2,200 cases of severe adverse events including hemorrhaging, blood loss requiring transfusions, serious infections, and at least 14 women’s deaths have occurred. At least eight of these women died from severe bacterial infections, and in every case the woman was instructed by an abortion provider to misuse this dangerous regimen.

Enacted in 2011 and supported by overwhelming majorities in both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Senate, the ”Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act” requires that abortion providers abide by FDA-approved guidelines when administering abortion-inducing drugs including RU-486.  It also requires that a physician examine a woman before providing abortion-inducing drugs, to ensure that her pregnancy is not ectopic and that she is not too far along in her pregnancy.

An abortion industry challenge to these commonsense and medically appropriate regulations was filed in October 2011, just before the regulations were slated to go into effect.   Later, in a cursory opinion released in December 2012, the Oklahoma Supreme Court invalidated the law.