Case: Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice v. Cline

CV-2014-1886 | Oklahoma state trial court

Filed Date: Sept. 30, 2014

Case Ongoing

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Case Summary

On September 30, 2014, the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and Nova Health Systems, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights and private counsel, filed this lawsuit in the District Court of Oklahoma County, challenging Oklahoma H.B. 2684. H.B. 2684 would have required physicians providing medication abortions to use the Mifeprex regimen, an obsolete protocol that did not meet the current standard of care and was less safe for patients. The lawsuit, filed against the Oklahom…

On September 30, 2014, the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and Nova Health Systems, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights and private counsel, filed this lawsuit in the District Court of Oklahoma County, challenging Oklahoma H.B. 2684.

H.B. 2684 would have required physicians providing medication abortions to use the Mifeprex regimen, an obsolete protocol that did not meet the current standard of care and was less safe for patients. The lawsuit, filed against the Oklahoma Commissioner of Health and the Executive Director of the Oklahoma State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision, argued that this law would violate their right to substantive due process and equal protection under Article 2, Section 2 and 7 of the Oklahoma Constitution, that it would constitute a special law prohibited under Article 5, Section 46 and 59, and that it would impermissibly delegate legislative authority to a federal agency in violation of Articles 4 and 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution. Plaintiffs sought (1) declaratory relief stating that H.B. 2684 violated the Oklahoma Constitution and was void and of no effect, (2) preliminary and permanent injunctive relief prohibiting the State from enforcing H.B. 2684, and (3) attorney’s fees and costs. This case was assigned to Judge Roger H. Stuart and then reassigned to Judge Patricia G. Parrish.

On the same day that Plaintiffs filed suit, they also filed a motion for a temporary injunction. On October 29, 2014, the trial court granted a temporary injunction prohibiting the enforcement of H.B. 2684, Sections 1(H)(2), (I), and (J), the provisions in the bill concerning loss of licensure and civil liability, reasoning that those provisions created a private cause of action and were likely a special law. The court denied a temporary injunction to the rest of the bill, reasoning that as the law limited a method of abortion but did not present a ban, the Plaintiffs had not shown irreparable harm. On the same day, Plaintiffs appealed this denial to the Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma, who, on November 4, 2014, granted the temporary injunction. This prohibited the enforcement of H.B. 2684 until the constitutionality of the Act was fully litigated. The court did not provide a reasoning as to its decision. 2014 OK 91, 113,355.

On January 29, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a motion for partial summary judgment on their improper delegation and special law claims and on March 2, 2015, the Defendants filed a response and cross-motion for summary judgment. On August 27, 2015, the court granted the summary judgment for the Plaintiffs, denied Defendants motion for summary judgment as moot, declared H.B. 2684 as unconstitutional and void, and permanently enjoined the State from enforcing H.B. 2684. The court cited the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling in Cline I, 2013 OK 93, 313 P.3d 253, which held that the “FDA has stated that evidence-based regimens are common, permissible, and can be required by good medical practice” and that the restriction of the use of drug RU-486 for medication abortions was “so completely at odds with the standard that governs the practice of medicine that they only serve to prevent women from obtaining abortions and to punish and discriminate against those who do.” Based on this ruling, the court here found that H.B. 2684 created a special law, in violation of the Oklahoma Constitution, where a general law could be made applicable and that it is not reasonably and substantially related to any legitimate legislative objective. 

On September 23, 2015, Defendants filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma, which, on February 23, 2016, reversed and remanded the trial court’s judgment. The Oklahoma Supreme Court found that H.B. 2684 did not violate the non-delegation doctrine of Article V, Section 1 as it did not allow a federal agency’s actions to affect Oklahoma’s law, and that it did not violate Article V, Section 59 as it is a permissible special law that is reasonably and substantially connected to protecting women. The case was remanded to the trial court for a determination of H.B. 2684’s validity under other constitutional provisions. 2016 OK 17, 114,307.

On November 9, 2017, the trial court granted Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment, declared H.B. 2684 unconstitutional and void, and permanently enjoined the State from enforcing any of its provisions. The court found that the Act failed under the undue burden standard because it would place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking pre-viability abortion and that this burden exceeded its benefits. Defendants appealed this decision on December 8, 2017, and on April 30, 2019, the Oklahoma Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision. 2019 OK 33, 116,603.

Summary Authors

Kathleen Lok (2/4/2023)

Related Cases

Nova Health Systems v. Cline, Oklahoma state trial court (2015)

People


Judge(s)

Kirkpatrick, K. Nikki (Oklahoma)

Attorney for Plaintiff

Hardwick, Martha M (Oklahoma)

Attorney for Defendant

Greenwalt, Sarah (Oklahoma)

Hall, Nathan (Oklahoma)

Mansinghani, Mithun S (Oklahoma)

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Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

CV-2014-1886

Docket

Oct. 31, 2021

Oct. 31, 2021

Docket

CV-2014-1886

Verified Petition

Sept. 30, 2014

Sept. 30, 2014

Complaint

CV-2014-1886

Order on Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Injunction

Oct. 29, 2014

Oct. 29, 2014

Order/Opinion

113355

Mandate

Oklahoma state supreme court

Dec. 18, 2014

Dec. 18, 2014

Order/Opinion

CV-2014-1886

Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment, Granting Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike the Affidavit of Reji T. Varghese, and Granting in Part Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike the Affidavit of Donna Harrison, M.D.

Aug. 27, 2015

Aug. 27, 2015

Order/Opinion

114307

Mandate

Oklahoma state supreme court

April 1, 2016

April 1, 2016

Order/Opinion

CV-2014-1886

Order Granting Summary Judgment

Nov. 9, 2017

Nov. 9, 2017

Order/Opinion

116603

Mandate

Oklahoma state supreme court

May 30, 2019

May 30, 2019

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 30, 2023, 1:29 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Oklahoma

Case Type(s):

Reproductive Issues

Key Dates

Filing Date: Sept. 30, 2014

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and Nova Health Systems are non-profit organizations promoting reproductive justice and providing abortion care in Oklahoma.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Non-profit NON-religious organization

Attorney Organizations:

Center for Reproductive Rights

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Department of Health, State

State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Facility Type(s):

Non-government non-profit

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Available Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Non-settlement Outcome

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Order Duration: 2014 - None

Issues

Reproductive rights:

Abortion

Medication abortion

Reproductive health care (including birth control, abortion, and others)

Undue Burden