The Supreme Court on Thursday asked a state court to clarify a couple of questions about an Oklahoma anti-abortion law that bans off-label use of certain abortion-inducing drugs.
The justices want the Oklahoma Supreme Court to answer two questions about the state law before the high court considers an appeal from the Oklahoma attorney general.
The law passed in 2011 required doctors to follow strict guidelines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and prohibited off-label uses of certain abortion-inducing drugs such as RU-486. Such moves include changing a recommended dosage or prescribing it for different symptoms than the drug was initially approved for. The law also required doctors to examine women before prescribing the drugs, document certain medical conditions and schedule follow-up appointments.
The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights has sued to stop the law, arguing that the restrictions would leave women no choice but to undergo invasive surgeries to end their pregnancies. Judges have halted its enforcement, and the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in December that the anti-abortion law was “facially unconstitutional” and that judges were right to prevent its enforcement.
The Supreme Court wants to know if the Oklahoma law “prohibits the use of misoprostol to induce abortions, including the use of misoprostol in conjunction with mifepristone according to a protocol approved by the Food and Drug Administration.” The high court also wants to know if the law stops “the use of methotrexate to treat ectopic pregnancies,” which is when an embryo implants somewhere outside of the uterus.
Mifepristone is also known as Mifeprex or RU-486, according to court papers.
The two sides arguing over the law disagree in court papers to the answer to those questions, so “further proceedings in this case are reserved pending receipt of a response from the Supreme Court of Oklahoma,” the high court said in its statement.