Oklahoma Supreme Court halts certain abortion restrictions
A judge's gavel (Shutterstock)

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday halted the implementation of new abortion restrictions in the state that supporters said are aimed at protecting women's health and critics said are really measures designed to shutter clinics.

Oklahoma is one of several Republican-stronghold states in hat have adopted similar restrictions on abortion clinics in about the last year, prompting legal battles at the state and federal court level.

The Oklahoma court said it will delay the implementation of the measures that began this month "until the constitutionality of the Act is fully and finally litigated."

One of the regulations approved in Oklahoma, as well as in other states, requires physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at an adequately equipped hospital within 30 miles of where the abortion is performed.

Such privileges generally allow a doctor who is approved by a hospital to admit a patient for treatment at their facilities.

Abortion rights groups have said the requirement is unnecessary because abortion complications are rare and usually similar to those of a miscarriage, which can be treated by emergency room physicians. Backers of the restrictions have said the rules help protect continuity of care.

The other part of the Oklahoma law halted on Tuesday concerns criteria for using certain abortion-inducing drugs, which critics have said are outdated and pose dangers to women because the mandated dosage is far higher than needed.

Supporters said the dosing guidelines were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are appropriate.

"We are relieved the court has stepped in to protect women's access to safe, legal abortion in Oklahoma. A woman's access to safe, legal abortion should not depend upon where she happens to live," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Susan Heavey)