OKLAHOMA CITY – A county judge in Oklahoma has blocked a law that would have prevented young girls from obtaining the morning-after pill without a prescription.
The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights had filed a lawsuit against the restriction earlier this month on behalf an Oklahoma mother of a 15-year-old teenage girl, asserting that the law discriminated against women. Girls under the age of 17 would have been required to obtain a prescription in order to use the morning-after pill, and would also have to show ID.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed the provision into law in late May, which was part of a bill that centered around health insurance benefits. Reports outline that Oklahoma legislators added the measure to the bill in order to protect the state from a recent decision surrounding the federal Food and Drug Administration, which eradicated all age restrictions in the purchase of the pill.
As previously reported, Judge Edward R. Korman, appointed by Ronald Reagan, blasted the Obama administration in March for not making Plan B, and other generic variations of the pill, freely available to all ages. He stated that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius likely had the presidential election in mind when she set the age limit to 17 in 2011.
However, Oklahoma lawmakers believed that the state needed to maintain the status quo as they were not comfortable with eradicating the age limit.
“The law simply keeps requirements the same as they have been for more than a decade, requiring those under age 17 to have a prescription to buy Plan B emergency contraceptives,” said Diane Clay, director of communications for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
However, abortion advocates opined that the law blocked societal “progress” in the area of reproductive choice.
“At a time when the federal government has taken an historic step to make emergency contraception more available to millions of women across the country, these hostile politicians have chosen to stand in the way of progress and cast aside their state’s constitution to impose arbitrary barriers on safe and effective birth control,” stated BeBe Anderson of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
On Monday, Judge Lisa Davis sided with the Center, issuing a temporary injunction against the restriction, which would have taken effect on Thursday. The case will now move forward in court, and the injunction could be removed in the future if Davis finds the requirement to be constitutional.
Disagreements over the morning-after pill and the availability of birth control have been fomenting in the nation in recent years, especially surrounding the Obamacare mandate.
Last year, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal stated that he believed contraceptives of all kinds should freely be made available over-the-counter to avoid any further argument about the health care requirement–but only to adults.
“As a conservative Republican, I believe that we have been stupid to let the Democrats demagogue the contraceptives issue and pretend, during debates about health-care insurance, that Republicans are somehow against birth control,” he wrote in in op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in December. “As an unapologetic pro-life Republican, I also believe that every adult (18 years old and over) who wants contraception should be able to purchase it. But anyone who has a religious objection to contraception should not be forced by government health-care edicts to purchase it for others.”
But some pro-life groups strongly oppose the morning-after pill altogether as they believe that it only encourages women of all ages to be sexually active.
“The MAP does nothing to alleviate the root problem of promiscuity. Rather, by offering a so-called ‘easy’ option to shirk the consequences of non-marital sex, this self-serve abortifacient only encourages people to become more sexually active with more partners,” stated Alex Mason of the Family Policy Network in Forest, Virginia. “The rise in the acceptance of casual sex is evidenced by the name of the pill. ‘Morning-after’ implies that aborting a baby is no big deal, like brushing one’s teeth or taking a shower. The MAP just adds one more item to the ‘morning-after’ to-do list.”
“With a misnomer like ‘emergency contraceptive pill,’ its name draws attention away from parental responsibility, abstinence, and self-control,” he added. “[T]he only ‘emergency’ that the MAP is named for is the ‘hassle’ of having a baby.”