Oklahoma lawmakers want clarification on use of mail-order drugs for abortions

Oklahoma lawmakers want clarification on use of mail-order drugs for abortions

OKLAHOMA CITY — Lawmakers are asking the state’s attorney general to determine whether it’s legal for women in Oklahoma to get drugs by mail to help them end a pregnancy on their own.

State Sen. Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain, said that although abortion has been “banned” in Oklahoma, women can still acquire pills through the mail that cause what he called abortions “ self-induced”. So he and seven other lawmakers are asking outgoing Attorney General John O’Connor “to answer whether or not home abortions are a crime in Oklahoma.”

Hamilton defines “self-induced or self-directed abortion” as “an act performed or administered by the mother with the intent to cause the death of her unborn child.” He said the fact that women can still get pills in the mail is causing concern among many Oklahoma lawmakers.

“We must protect the lives of unborn children at all costs,” Hamilton said. “We also need to protect mothers who might self-aborte without knowing it’s a crime. At present, it is unclear whether induced abortions are prohibited by law, as there are many conflicting reports about it. I look forward to a response from Attorney General O’Connor for clarity, because the lives of innocent unborn children depend on it.

In an email, the Oklahoma State Medical Association, which represents medical providers, said doctors in Oklahoma were already barred from prescribing certain abortion drugs.

The group, however, said there are many reasons why it might be difficult to ban or track the distribution of mifepristone and misoprostol by mail. Both drugs are still legal in the United States, and the FDA approves them for multiple uses.

Mifepristone is often used to treat miscarriages, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and Cushing’s syndrome, while misoprostol is prescribed for ulcers and to protect the stomach lining when using drugs like ibuprofen, the group said.

The group said Oklahoma’s ban on drug use could also interfere with the constitutional right to interstate commerce as well as other health-related regulations.

Hamilton did not respond to an email seeking additional comment and clarification on how the state might enforce a ban if the drugs are in fact found to be illegal.

Oklahoma lawmakers have passed some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country in recent months. State law makes abortion a felony except to save the mother’s life in a medical emergency, and doctors who perform abortions can face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to up to $100,000.

In response to Hamilton’s request, Emily Wales, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said “we live in the same nightmare when politicians in Oklahoma are shocked by the obvious results of their ideological crusade. against fundamental rights”.

Wales, in an email, said her group had warned for years that if legal abortion options were removed, patients would continue to seek control of their reproductive rights without the medical support they needed. deserve.

“At least the anti-abortion lawmakers are more transparent than we’ve ever seen them, blatantly calling on the state to turn their constituents into criminals,” Wales said. “The people of Oklahom deserve high-quality, comprehensive reproductive health services, not cruelty and control of their lives.”

State Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Roland, author of Oklahoma’s law criminalizing abortion, said his bill did not specifically address mail-order pills. Although he didn’t sign Hamilton’s request, Olsen said “it’s a very appropriate request” to ask O’Connor to clarify the law.

“That might give us some clues as to how best to handle this, because no matter how it’s done, an abortion takes a human life,” Olsen said. “So I think the long-term goal would be to find the best way to do it, and I just don’t know if any of us currently know exactly the best way to do it.”

Olsen also said he was unsure how the state would enforce such a ban, especially against out-of-state practitioners.

But, he also doesn’t see the legislative conversation shifting to the legality of mail-order drugs in the upcoming session.

He said lawmakers have recently passed numerous anti-abortion laws and there is a desire to “let these settle like Oklahoma law.”

“We’ll probably wait a bit before doing anything else,” he said. “I think most of us just don’t know exactly what to do next, so we’ll just try to hold the line on what we have and not slack off in any way, and then I hope we will figure it out.after a while the best way forward.

Janelle Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI newspapers and websites. Contact her at jstecklein@cnhinews.com.

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