04 November 2013

Law in Plain English: Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

SCOTUSblogCline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice

Argument:N/A

Discussion: In 2011, Oklahoma passed a law that regulates doctors’ prescription of drugs that have been approved for public use by the FDA, and that have the medical effect of inducing abortions. A trial court in Oklahoma found the bill unconstitutional under Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and the Oklahoma Supreme Court affirmed in a brief opinion without any discussion. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, but first asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to answer a certified question: Whether H.B. No. 1970, Section 1, Chapter 216, O.S.L. 2011 prohibits: (1) 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; and (2) the use of methotrexate to treat ectopic pregnancies. Once the Oklahoma Supreme Court responds, the Supreme Court will then determine how to proceed.

Issue: Whether the Oklahoma Supreme Court erred in holding – without analysis or discussion – that the Oklahoma law requiring that abortion-inducing drugs be administered according to the protocol described on the drugs’ FDA-approved labels is facially unconstitutional under Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Pursuant to the Revised Uniform Certification of Questions of Law Act, Okla. Stat., Tit. 20, §1601 et seq. (West 2002), respectfully certifies to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma the following question: Whether H.B. No. 1970, Section 1, Chapter 216, O.S.L. 2011 prohibits: (1) 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; and (2) the use of methotrexate to treat ectopic pregnancies. Further proceedings in this case are reserved pending receipt of a response from the Supreme Court of Oklahoma.

Holding: On November 4, 2013, the Supreme Court dismissed the writ of ceriorari as improvidently granted.
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