The U.S. Supreme Court signaled interest in an abortion case, asking Oklahoma’s top court to clarify the reach of a state law that regulates the use of drugs to end a pregnancy.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down the measure in a three-paragraph ruling in December. It was one of three abortion laws the state court invalidated last year.
The challengers, led by the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, say the law effectively bars all drug-induced abortions. State officials say the measure only regulates abortions, by blocking drug protocols that don’t follow the instructions approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The Supreme Court asked the Oklahoma court to say whether the law bars the use of the abortion drug misoprostol, even when doctors follow an FDA-approved protocol for combining the drug with RU-486.
The high court also asked whether the Oklahoma measure blocks use of methotrexate, a cancer drug, to treat ectopic pregnancies.
The justices granted review to the case although they have the option of dismissing it after getting a response from the Oklahoma court.
In upholding the law, the Oklahoma court pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In that case, the court said states can’t place an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to end a pregnancy before the fetus would be able to live outside the womb.
The case is Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, 12-1094.
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