The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

State, national, world

August 19, 2013

Judge blocks Okla. morning-after pill restrictions

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma County judge Monday blocked a new state law restricting access to the morning-after pill that was scheduled to take effect this week.

District Judge Lisa Davis granted a temporary restraining order, which was requested by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights. The group filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and Jo Ann Mangili of Mounds, the mother of a 15-year-old girl.

The lawsuit alleges the rule, which was to take effect Thursday, is unconstitutional and discriminates against Oklahoma women.

The federal government approved unrestricted over-the-counter sales for the emergency contraceptive in June; it became available in pharmacies and grocery stores on Aug. 1. But under Oklahoma's blocked law, women 17 and older must show identification to a pharmacist to obtain the Plan B One-Step pill and generic emergency contraceptives. It also requires women under 17 to have a prescription to obtain them.

More than a dozen women wearing pink shirts, some of which bore the words "Trust Oklahoma Women," attended the hearing. Martha Skeeters, president of the coalition, said she was pleased with the judge's action.

"The outcome today is good news for the health of Oklahoma women," Skeeters said.

Diane Clay, director of communications for Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office, said it is disappointed.

"The law simply keeps requirements the same as they have been for more than a decade, requiring those under age 17 to have a prescription to buy Plan B emergency contraceptives," Clay said in a statement.

David Brown, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said Oklahoma's restrictions on the contraceptive are unique in the nation.

The Oklahoma Legislature passed the law — part of a measure primarily dealing with regulations regarding health insurance benefit forms — last spring, and it received bipartisan support in the House and Senate. Gov. Mary Fallin signed it on May 29.

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