American Journal of Law & Medicine

Abortion: State Statutes Regulating Abortion Need Not Contain a Per Se Exception for Mother's Health or Safety--Planned Parenthood Cincinnati Region v. Taft, 2006 WL 947302 (6th Cir. Apr. 13, 2006).(Select Recent Court Decisions)

Abortion: State Statutes Regulating Abortion Need Not Contain a Per Se Exception for Mother's Health or Safety--Planned Parenthood Cincinnati Region v. Taft, (1)--The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that state statutes regulating abortions are not required to contain an exception for the health or life of the mother. (2) The Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") approved the use and manufacture of mifepristone (RU-486), a drug that medically induces abortion without surgical intervention. (3) The FDA has concluded that the use of RU-486 at a certain dosage up to a certain time of gestation (4) is a "safe and effective method of medical abortion," (5) and has listed this prescribed regimen in its labeling and approval letter. (6) Generally, once the FDA has approved a drug, physicians have the legal authority to prescribe it for "off-label" uses, unless state regulations require otherwise, (7) An off-label use of RU-486 that has gained prominence is the Schaff protocol, which allows for the administration of RU-486 up to sixty-three days after gestation. (8)

The Ohio General Assembly, in response to several women who had died or been severely injured because of their use of RU-486, (9) enacted legislation in 2004 (10) that prohibited any person from selling, administering, prescribing, or dispensing the medical abortion drug RU-486, unless the person was a physician who complied with the requirements established by federal law. (11) "Federal law" was defined to include "any drug approval letter" of the FDA that "governs or regulates the use of RU-486 for the purpose of inducing abortions." (12) Effectively, this state statute proscribed the off-label use of RU-486 in Ohio. (13) Plaintiffs, various Ohio chapters of Planned Parenthood and two physicians, challenged the constitutionality of this statute and asked the district court for a preliminary injunction prior to the statute's effectuation. …

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