Reproductive Rights

Supreme Court Dismisses Major Medical Abortion Case

Without much explanation, the US Supreme Court took a major abortion case off of its docket today, providing relief for abortion rights supporters concerned about how the conservative court may have decided the case.

via Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice was a “plea by the state of Oklahoma to revive a law that restricts doctors’ use of drugs rather than surgery to perform an abortion with the medication RU-486 and others.” The law in question had been struck down by Oklahoma’s Supreme Court in 2011. The US Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in June, but held off on reviewing it until some issues were clarified. Oklahoma’s highest court finally provided the necessary clarifications last week, explaining that the law would ban all medication abortions – even ones approved by the FDA.

Because of the large scope of the law, if the Supreme Court were to rule on Cline, it would have to examine whether an abortion procedure allowed by the federal government can be banned by a state. A decision in favor of Oklahoma’s right to enact such a restrictive law would open the door for other states to attempt similar techniques to chip away at abortion rights.

This victory may be short-lived. Texas recently enacted a similar law that restricts medication abortions as well, and a challenge to the law is headed to the Supreme Court.

Media Resources: SCOTUS Blog 11/4/13; The Washington Post 11/4/13; ThinkProgress 11/4/13

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