At issue is whether an Oklahoma law requires women and their doctors to follow a protocol that effectively limits access to chemically induced abortions. But first, the Supreme Court wants clarification on what, exactly, the state law outlaws.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
In a brief order, the justices agreed to take up the case, and then asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to determine whether the disputed state law bars the application of certain drugs used in chemically induced abortions.
The court said that further proceedings in the case would be reserved pending receipt of a response from the Supreme Court of Oklahoma.
The action came in an appeal filed on behalf of the Oklahoma attorney general asking the justices to reinstate an Oklahoma law regulating RU-486 abortions that was struck down by the state high court in December.
The law sought to limit chemically induced abortions to a protocol of procedures that critics said were outdated and would effectively ban the procedure.
In his brief to the court, Oklahoma Solicitor General Patrick Wyrick asked the justices to examine whether the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled correctly when it invalidated the 2011 state law that had mandated that all drug-induced abortions in the state follow a specific protocol.
Under the law, abortion providers were required to follow instructions approved by the Food and Drug Administration back in 2000 when chemically induced abortions were first approved.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice challenged the law, arguing that the 2000 protocol had since become obsolete and had been replaced by newer time-tested procedures and doses that were safer, more effective, and less expensive.
The new procedures allow a woman to self-administer a second drug at home rather than in a clinic. They also extended the effective use of the chemically induced abortion process from 49 days into the pregnancy to 63 days.