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By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday temporarily put on hold a state law restricting abortions while the issue is argued in a lower court.

The unanimous action by the high court means that women in Oklahoma can continue to use the prescription drugs mifepristone and misoprostol, which induce abortion in the early weeks of pregnancy.

Oklahoma had sought to prohibit such abortions in a law known as House Bill 2684.

Reproductive Services in Tulsa and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice filed suit against the law, which went into effect on Saturday, arguing that the measure in unconstitutional.

An Oklahoma County district judge last month put a portion of the law on hold. That decision was appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

In its action on Tuesday, the Supreme Court “temporarily enjoins enforcement of the Act until the constitutionality of the Act is fully and finally litigated.”

The court went on to note: “This court expresses no opinion concerning the validity of the Act.”

This type of abortion is an alternative to later surgical abortions.

Mifepristone causes the placenta to separate from the endometrium. Misoprostol is given later, causing contractions so that the body expels the uterine contents. Many doctors allow their patients to take misoprostol at home.

In its court papers, Reproductive Services argues that it uses the drugs in a protocol that is effective, but different from the procedure outlined by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Among the differences is that the groups’ doctors prescribe a lower dose of mifepristone, which reduces the rate of side effects.

“House Bill 2684’s restrictions impose a substantial obstacle for women seeking an abortion because the act bans the most common method of abortion for all of Reproductive Services’ patients who are between 49 and 63 days since” their last menstrual period.

The restrictions are being defended by state attorney general’s office.

“To this point, the courts have agreed with the attorney general’s argument that the Oklahoma Legislature was within its constitutional authority to enact HB 2684 to protect women from the dangerous off-label use of abortion inducing drugs,” Aaron Cooper, spokesman for Attorney General Scott Pruitt, told the Tulsa World on Friday.

Photo via Flickr Commons/World Can’t Wait

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