- Associated Press - Monday, March 10, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Monday to further restrict the use of abortion-inducing drugs in Oklahoma, a bill that was written in direct response to a recent state Supreme Court decision.

The House’s final count was 81-8 on the bill authored by Republican Rep. Randy Grau. The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.

The measure would prohibit off-label uses of abortion-inducing drugs by requiring doctors to administer the drugs only in accordance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration protocol.

Grau, of Edmond, previously attempted to limit use of the drugs with a bill in 2011 that the Oklahoma Supreme Court declared unconstitutional, saying it effectively banned all drug-induced abortions in the state.


“I think this bill is important … because the court was not clear on the legislative purpose,” Grau said of his most recent effort.

The bill specifically states that it does not ban the use of the drug misoprostol in chemical abortions, nor does it prevent the off-label use of drugs for the treatment of ectopic pregnancies in which a fertilized egg develops outside of a woman’s womb.

“The treatment of an ectopic pregnancy is not an abortion,” Grau said. “That should be clear.”

But Rep. Emily Virgin, who voted against the bill, questioned why legislators need to involve themselves in a decision that she said should be made between a doctor and patient.

“I have yet to find another area of medicine where the Legislature continually finds a need to involve itself,” said Virgin, D-Norman.

Oklahoma is among five states - the others are Arizona, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas - that have sought to restrict medical abortions by limiting or banning off-label uses of drugs.

Among those covered is mifepristone, originally known as RU-486. In 2001, the FDA approved the use of mifepristone through the first seven weeks of pregnancy. It is prescribed along with a second drug, misoprostol.

Since the FDA approval, medical researchers and clinical trials have shown that mifepristone is effective in much smaller doses and for two weeks longer in a pregnancy, the opponents of Oklahoma’s law argued.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court noted that such off-label uses of drugs are standard medical practice.

More than 1.4 million women have taken the drugs to induce abortions. Attorneys for the state of Oklahoma argued that at least eight women have died in the U.S., justifying its law requiring adherence to the FDA protocol.

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