Okmulgee County Woman Sues For Reproductive Rights

Tuesday, January 28th 2014, 6:11 pm
By: News On 6

Oklahoma passed a law last year that regulated emergency contraception. A judge ruled that law unconstitutional last week, saying it violated the single-subject rule in the state constitution.

An Okmulgee County woman is the person who sued, asking the law be thrown out. Jo Ann Mangili was thrilled at the decision and says Oklahoma law needs to let women make their own decisions when it comes to reproduction.

Plan B is an emergency contraceptive that prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg, as well as preventing a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb. Under state law passed last year, women under 17 years old needed a prescription and to show photo a ID in order to get the contraceptives.

It was signed just before the FDA approved unrestricted, over-the-counter sales of emergency contraceptives.

Jo Ann Mangili - along with New York based Center for Reproductive Rights - filed suit against the state to block the law.

"I'm proud that I did it; I think it needed to be done," Mangili said.

She says women, even teenagers, should have access to all forms of contraception.

"The fact of the matter is: parents, no matter how much you talk to your children, no matter how much you teach them, we know that children are out there engaging in sexual activity," Mangili said.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Oklahoma ranked fourth highest in the country in 2011 with more than 6,000 children born to teenage mothers. Mangili knows there are those who disagree with her, but she says she filed the suit over personal freedom and the right to let women choose what they think is best for their own bodies.

"Females of reproductive age in Oklahoma deserve the right to make their own choices about their reproductive health," said Jo Ann Mangili, an Okmulgee County resident.

We tried to find supporters of the law but our messages were not returned. Representative Colby Schwartz of Yukon wrote last year's law.

His aide tells me he plans on submitting a new bill this session that avoids the single-subject problem but still limits access to emergency contraception.