State Judge Blocks Okla. Emergency Contraception Restrictions

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Plan B One-Step can remain on pharmacy, grocery store shelves without restriction pending outcome of Center for Reproductive Rights lawsuit
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(PRESS RELEASE) A state judge ruled today that an Oklahoma state law placing unnecessary barriers on women’s access to emergency contraception cannot take effect pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Said David Brown, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Once again Oklahoma politicians’ efforts to turn back the clock on women’s health and rights have been blocked.

“Oklahoma women may rest assured that they will not be denied access to this important means of preventing unintended pregnancy.

“And perhaps this latest in a long and growing list of federal and state court decisions vindicating women’s fundamental right to the full range of essential reproductive health care will at last put an end to the assaults of politicians bent on stripping away rights that all women must be guaranteed.”

HB 2226, which was signed by Governor Mary Fallin on May 29, attempts to reinstate restrictions on access to emergency contraception that have been removed by the FDA, thus imposing unique limits on Oklahoma women’s ability to get the medication.

While HB 2226 primarily focuses on regulating health insurance benefit forms, it also includes an unrelated and discriminatory provision requiring women 17 and older to show identification to a pharmacist in order to obtain Plan B One-Step and requiring those under 17 to have a prescription to obtain it.

The Center’s legal challenge argues that the law violates the Oklahoma Constitution’s “single-subject rule”—which is designed to prevent abuses of power by the legislature and prohibits politicians from addressing unrelated issues in a single law—and discriminates against Oklahoma women by imposing arbitrary and unjustified restrictions on birth control.

The Center filed the lawsuit in state court on August 8 on behalf of Jo Ann Mangili, an Oklahoma mother of a teen daughter, and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, a membership organization dedicated to promoting reproductive justice through education, empowerment, and advocacy.

Following a decade-long legal battle led by the Center for Reproductive Rights and a federal court order, the FDA finally approved a widely-used brand of emergency contraception—Plan B One-Step—for unrestricted, over the counter sale on June 20. As of August 1, the product is available in the family planning aisle of pharmacy and grocery store shelves across the country, including Oklahoma, to women of all ages.

The Center for Reproductive Rights represents the plaintiffs in Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice v. Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy along with Anne Zachritz in Oklahoma City and Martha Hardwick in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.