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Oklahoma law restricting emergency contraception blocked in district court

Judge Lisa Davis granted a temporary injunction, blocking a law preventing over-the-counter sales of emergency contraceptive

Today District Judge Lisa Davis blocked a law that made emergency contraception less accessible to women in Oklahoma.

Passed by the legislature with bipartisan support and signed by Governor Fallin this spring, HB 2226 made Oklahoma the only state with a law keeping the emergency contraceptive Plan B One-Step behind the counter.  The law requires that all women show identification to a pharmacist and teens have a prescription in order to purchase the contraceptive.  

Because of the judge’s temporary restraining order, this law does not go into effect on Thursday as planned and the drug will be available for sale like all other over the counter drugs.

Martha Skeeters speaks at press conference after ruling to block HR 2226 in Oklahoma


Martha Skeeters speaks at press conference after ruling to block HB 2226 in Oklahoma. She is joined by Senator Connie Johnson and lawyers from the Center for Reproductive Rights.


 

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights were the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, an advocacy group, and Jo Ann Mangili, an Oklahoma mother of a teen daughter.

HB 2226 began as a bill concerned with regulating health insurance benefit forms, but came to include the unrelated and discriminatory provision concerning Plan B One-Step. David Brown, attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, argued that the law contravened the Oklahoma Constitution’s requirement that a law contain only one subject.

OCRJ President Martha Skeeters said, “The judge’s ruling today is good news for women and teens in Oklahoma, who deserve the same access to emergency contraceptives that women in the rest of the country have.”  The FDA has ruled this contraceptive safe and effective for all ages.  It is most effective the sooner it is taken and effective only up to 72 hours.  So its timely availability is extremely important. 

Skeeters added, “The legislature needs to be more concerned about the far-reaching effects of unintended pregnancy on the health and safety of Oklahomans and refrain from passing unconstitutional bills aimed at restricting accessibility to contraceptives.”

Oklahoma’s rate of births from unintended pregnancy at 48% is much higher than the national rate of 38%.  And Oklahoma ranks seventh among states in teen birth rates.  In 2012 the state settled a lawsuit which alleged among other things that children in the DHS foster care system were being mistreated.  Unfortunately the state has been unable to reach goals set by that settlement to improve the treatment of children in DHS care or to increase the number of social workers.

 

Senator Connie Johnson explained how the bill's content was altered at the eleventh hour of the legislative session.


Senator Connie Johnson (D-Oklahoma City) explained how the bill's content was altered at the eleventh hour of the legislative session.


 News coverage of the court hearing and reaction:

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