Justices dismiss state law restricting medical abortions

Story highlights

  • The Supreme Court opts not to review a ruling striking down an Oklahoma abortion law
  • The law would have regulated the ability of doctors to prescribe medicine to abort a pregnancy
  • The high court reverses an earlier decision to consider the appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a pending appeal from Oklahoma officials who were defending a state law limiting abortions performed with medicine instead of surgery.

The law would have regulated the ability of doctors to prescribe a medication regime -- using RU-486 pills -- to terminate early pregnancies, and make it a crime to deviate from the federal government-approved dosage and time limits on the drugs.

But many physicians -- backed by abortion rights supporters -- say they routinely induce medical abortions through a combination of drugs they determine is simpler, safer, and less expensive than the current federal protocols on the use of abortion drugs.

The high court months ago had tentatively added this case to its docket, but put things on hold while it sought detailed answers from Oklahoma Supreme Court. Those state justices again affirmed the law's unconstitutionality, and now the nation's highest court tossed out Oklahoma's appeal "as improvidently granted."

This was the first of several restrictive abortion laws nationwide to get review by the U.S. justices. A federal appeals court last week allowed a similar law from Texas to go into effect. But a coalition of abortion rights groups said Monday they would ask the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency injunction to block that law's enforcement.

The current case is Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice (12-1094).

What's on the Supreme Court docket