Sixth Circuit Refuses to Reconsider Ohio’s Ban on RU-486

In October a divided panel of Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals judges upheld the state’s law restricting the use of RU-486 as a constitutional restriction to a woman’s right to access abortion. Late last week the full Sixth Circuit denied Planned Parenthood’s request to overturn that October ruling, leaving in place the panel decision and upholding, likely permanently, the state’s restrictions on medical abortions.

The law at issue, HB 126, was first passed in 2004, and regulates and restricts the use of mifepristone by requiring that it can only be administered in the same exact dosage as approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000 and further restricts the use of mifepristone to the first seven weeks of pregnancy. After the seventh week of pregnancy the law criminalizes the use and administration of the drug. The law is a specific and intentional prohibition of the common practice of off-label use of the drug, and a restriction challengers contend is unconstitutionally vague, intrusive, and imposes an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose early, safe abortion. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals disagrees.

The ruling is a significant one because it is the first federal appellate decision to rule on the constitutionality of laws restricting the use of RU-486. And while not binding on jurisdictions outside of the Sixth Circuit, which encompasses Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, other courts that have similar legal challenges to similar restrictions pending, like the Oklahoma Supreme Court, could look to the decision for persuasive authority and decide to follow it.

Planned Parenthood’s options now are to appeal the decision to the Roberts Court or to let it stand as another example of a federal judiciary all too willing to go along with a right-wing agenda of regulating abortion rights out of existence.

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  • michelle-mesick

    They have not banned an FDA- approved drug, they are restricting its uses to those approved by the FDA. Your title gave me a horrible scare. It’s a sad enough story without making it worse.

  • leftcoaster

    for all practical purposes. They are not physicians. They are lawmakers. They defer to their state’s medical board for EVERY OTHER DAMN DRUG. Do you think they have laws on the books that mandate pregnancy tests prior to dispensing chemotherapy or any drug that can end a developing pregnancy? Of course not.


    Face it: The fetus-worshipping culture in some states is off the tracks. We will stop them.


  • michelle-mesick

    I’m not contesting that the law is nuts and the fetus-worshipping culture is off the tracks. I think this ruling is wrong and horrible. However, it would be considerably more difficult to stop them if the supreme courts sixth circuit had actually upheld banning the use of an FDA approved drug altogether, even for it’s FDA approved use. Thank goodness we’re not to that point and can turn things around.


    Editing question: does anyone know how to make a strikethrough show up in my comment?

  • beenthere72



    I guess the del tag works in the subject line but not the body.




    The <strike> tag is not supported in HTML5. Use the <del> tag instead.

    The <strike> element is deprecated in HTML 4.01.


  • leftcoaster

    it creates access to private medical records.


  • michelle-mesick

    Thank you! That’s good to know.

  • robin-marty

    the vast majority of providers don’t offer RU-486 as an option for termination because of being forced to follow FDA protocol. Clinics refuse to add it to their services because of the suit and the issues, and it costs far more to do that than a surgical abortion, since taking three times as much medication also requires three times as much money. So, it really is a ban.

  • michelle-mesick

    Has a newer protocol proven more effective than the one approved by the FDA? Also, could you clarify what you mean by “taking three times as much medication”? I seem to have missed something here.