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U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUS drops Oklahoma abortion-pill case; Texas case goes to court on emergency request

Posted Nov 4, 2013 11:28 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court has dismissed a case seeking to reinstate an Oklahoma law that requires doctors prescribing abortion pills to follow an outdated Food and Drug Administration protocol.

The court dismissed the case, Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, as improvidently granted on Monday, report SCOTUSblog, How Appealing and the Washington Post.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled last week that the law is unconstitutional because it effectively bans all medication abortions. The Oklahoma court ruled in a request for clarification by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The FDA approved the abortion drug mifepristone, commonly referred to as RU-486, in 2000. Doctors usually depart from the FDA protocol by prescribing the drug at a lower dose, by allowing patients prescribed a second combination drug to take it at home, and by allowing a longer time period for medication abortions.

Even as the high court dismissed the Oklahoma case, abortion providers in Texas filed an emergency application with the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to prevent part of a restrictive abortion law in that state from taking effect. The providers want to block a requirement for doctors performing abortions to have formal admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their abortion clinics. A press release by the American Civil Liberties Union has more information.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the provision on hospital privileges to take effect in a decision last Thursday. The appeals court said there is a rational basis for the provision because hospitals conduct credentialing reviews of doctors with admission privileges, helping ensure quality.

The Texas law also generally limits the use of abortion-inducing medication to the FDA protocol, but the abortion providers did not request action on that provision, SCOTUSblog says.

The application is Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services v. Abbott.

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