Sixth Circuit Upholds Ohio's RU-486 Limits - U.S. Sixth Circuit
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Sixth Circuit Upholds Ohio's RU-486 Limits

Tuesday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision upholding Ohio's restrictions on the abortion pill widely known as RU-486.

In 2004, Ohio passed a law criminalizing the distribution of mifepristone, also known as RU-486, unless the distribution followed certain protocols and gestational time limits identified by the FDA when mifepristone was first approved in 2000. The law criminalizes the use of mifepristone after the seventh week of a pregnancy, reports Cincinatti.com.

Mifepristone, in combination with misoprostol, was the only form of medical abortion offered by Planned Parenthood in Ohio when the bill was passed, so Planned Parenthood's Ohio regional clinics sued to challenge the constitutionality of the act on several grounds.

Although a preliminary injunction is in place to cover the Act's failure to make an exception for circumstances involving the health and life of the mother, the Act has otherwise been in force since February 2011.

The issue on appeal was whether the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants on three of the four constitutional claims Planned Parenthood brought to facially challenge the limitations on the abortion pill.

Following the resolution of certain certified questions by the Ohio Supreme Court, the district court held that:

  1. The Act was no longer unconstitutionally vague,
  2. The Act did not violate a woman's right to bodily integrity under the Fourteenth Amendment, and
  3. The Act did not impose an undue burden on a woman's Fourteenth Amendment right to choose abortion.

(The fourth claim, whether the Act unduly burdens a woman's right to health and life under the Fourteenth Amendment, is being held for trial and was not at issue on this appeal.)

The Sixth Circuit unanimously affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on Planned Parenthood's vagueness and bodily-integrity claims. The court affirmed the undue burden finding in a 2-1 vote.

Considering the number of states that have attempted to limit access to the abortion pill, and the number of courts that have heard lawsuits challenging these limitations, we wonder how long it will be before the Supreme Court considers an RU-486 case.

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