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Planned Parenthood Wants En Banc Review of Abortion Pill Decision

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

Planned Parenthood is asking the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for en banc rehearing of a decision upholding Ohio's restrictions on the abortion pill widely known as RU-486, reports The Associated Press.

Tuesday, the group filed a petition asking the full court to reconsider the case.

In 2004, Ohio passed a law criminalizing the distribution of mifepristone 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, which is considered an off-label use, reports

Mifepristone, in combination with misoprostol, was the only form of medical abortion offered by Planned Parenthood in Ohio.

Planned Parenthood challenged the constitutionality of the act. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants on three of the four constitutional claims Planned Parenthood brought facially challenging 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.)

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.

Abortion pill restrictions have been a popular topic this year in the federal appellate courts. We're guessing that the Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of such limitations either in the 2012 or 2012 term.

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