The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear consolidated cases about expanded access to the abortion medication mifepristone, setting the stage for a potentially devastating ruling in the midst of next year’s critical national elections.
The development has some reproductive rights advocates worried. This is the same conservative court that, in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling last year, reversed a half-century of nationwide abortion rights affirmed by Roe v. Wade, paving the way for GOP bans in over a dozen states.
“Today’s decision is a likely first step toward a massive blow to reproductive rights in the United States—and a stark reminder that our courts have been hijacked by Republican extremists,” said one abortion rights advocate.
A federal appellate court on Wednesday upheld portions of a ruling restricting access to the abortion pill mifepristone, although the drug will remain available pending the outcome of ongoing litigation.
A three-judge panel of the right-wing 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that mifepristone can remain on the market, while finding that the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 2016 move to allow the pill to be taken later in pregnancy, mailed directly to patients, and prescribed by healthcare professionals other than doctors was likely illegal.
“Groundbreaking,” “monumental,” and “transformative” were just a few of the words rights advocates used on Thursday to describe the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s long-awaited approval of over-the-counter use of Opill, a birth control pill that was approved for prescription use five decades ago.
The approval could revolutionize access to contraception for young people, low-income people, and others in a country where nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended, said Free the Pill, a coalition of more than 200 reproductive justice groups and advocates who have been campaigning for over-the-counter (OTC) access to birth control for nearly two decades.
From Florida and Texas to California and Illinois, demonstrators marched with chants like, “Red state, blue state, you can’t hide, the war on abortion is nationwide,” and “Fascist judges make me ill, hands off the abortion pill.”
As legal fights raise concerns about the future accessibility of the abortion medication mifepristone, reproductive rights supporters on Saturday rallied outside the U.S. Supreme Court and in cities across the country.
The demonstrations came a day after the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked a recent ruling by Texas-based federal Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former President Donald Trump who struck down the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 2000 approval of mifepristone, one of two drugs often taken in tandem for abortions.
Governor Ron DeSantis speaking with attendees at the 2022 Student Action Summit at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC
EDITOR‘S NOTE: The bill was signed last evening.
Reproductive rights defenders on Thursday braced for a near-total abortion ban in Florida as Republican state lawmakers sent legislation outlawing the medical procedure after six weeks to governor and likely GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis‘ desk for his all-but-certain signature.
S.B. 300 passed in the Florida House of Representatives by a 70-40 vote largely along party lines after approval by the GOP-controlled Senate earlier this month. If signed into law as anticipated, the legislation will replace an existing 2022 Florida law prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with a six-week ban containing exceptions for victims of rape, incest, or human trafficking; in cases of fatal fetal abnormalities; or to save the pregnant person’s life.
“In a time when reproductive healthcare is under attack, our group of 23 attorneys general strongly believe we should be encouraging companies and providers to offer easily accessible, safe, and confidential healthcare as broadly as possible.”
Mifepristone The pill is one of two used in medication abortions. Photo: Robin Marty/flickr/CC
Warning that Republican-led states have launched an effort to keep millions of people from accessing lifesaving medications, 23 Democratic state attorneys general on Thursday sent a letter to officials at CVS and Walgreens to assure the pharmacies that they can legally dispense and mail mifepristone and misoprostol, the pills used in medication abortions.
The attorneys general of Oregon, California, and Washington spearheaded the letter two weeks after their Republican counterparts in 20 states told the pharmacies that they could be in violation of the Comstock Act, dating back to the 1870s, if they deliver the pills to patients by mail. Continue reading →
Reproductive rights advocates rebuked Sen. Ted Cruz on Thursday after he claimed that pregnancy is “not a life-threatening” condition for women while arguing that medication abortions should not be available in the United States.
After joining 20 of his GOP colleagues in writing a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling on the agency to ban mifepristone and misoprostol, which are used in early pregnancy to induce an abortion, the Texas Republican tweeted that the pills are “dangerous” and unnecessary for women’s health. Continue reading →
President Donld Trump petitioned the Supreme Court to reinstate an FDA rule mandating a doctor’s office visit for patients to obtain mifepristone, which is used to terminate an early pregnancy. (Photo: Robin Marty/Flickr)
Potentially subjecting patients to Covid-19 risks in the interest of violating the constitutional right to seek an abortion, President Donald Trump on Wednesday petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a rule requiring patients to see a doctor in person before obtaining a medication used to provide abortion care.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit last month to suspend the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) restriction on behalf of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), New York State Academy of Family Physicians, and other reproductive healthcare providers and rights groups. Continue reading →