U.S. Repro Watch provides periodic updates on news of interest on U.S. reproductive rights. Here are a few recent items you won’t want to miss:
1. January 22 should have marked 51 years of Roe v. Wade and the U.S. constitutional right to abortion.
- Instead, countless people across the U.S. have been stripped of their rights and denied essential abortion care, even though their health, lives and fertility were at risk.
- The Center has taken the fight to court on behalf of dozens of women who were denied abortion care, as well as physicians, in Texas and other states that have banned abortion. Find out more about the Center’s cases on medical exceptions to state abortion bans.
2. The Biden administration marked the Roe anniversary with new measures to ensure access to contraception, abortion pills and emergency abortions at hospitals.
- Federal agencies are issuing guidance that would make no-cost contraceptives more available under the Affordable Care Act and take similar actions to expand contraception access for federal employees.
- The federal health department also announced a new team dedicated to enforcing its interpretation of a law, known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA, which requires hospitals to provide stabilizing care, including emergency abortions.
- The move follows an earlier decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to reject an EMTALA complaint filed by the Center on behalf of an Oklahoma woman denied abortion care despite a life-threatening pregnancy complication. The hospital had told the woman, Jaci Statton, to wait in the hospital parking lot until her death was imminent.
3. A North Dakota court denied the Center’s request to block a state abortion ban in emergency situations.
- In a preliminary ruling on January 23, a North Dakota state court denied the Center’s request to block the state’s extreme abortion ban in situations where an abortion is necessary to preserve the life or health of a pregnant person. The court did not address the constitutional questions that are the focus of the case and will issue a final ruling after a hearing on the merits of the case.
- In March 2023, the North Dakota Supreme Court blocked the state’s “trigger ban” as a violation of the state’s constitution—but state lawmakers passed another total abortion ban, which is the law now at issue in the case.
4. Washington pharmacists are training to prescribe abortion pills to their walk-in patients.
- The Pharmacy Abortion Access Project trains community pharmacists in Washington state to determine whether patients are eligible for medication abortion, prescribe abortion pills and dispense them in brick-and-mortar stores—a streamlined model of care intended to expand access to the medication.
- The project follows a rule change by the FDA last year that allows more pharmacies to dispense the abortion drug mifepristone.
- “This is about meeting women where they are,” said Don Downing, a professor emeritus of clinical pharmacy and a founder of the project. Nearly 90% of Americans live within five miles of a community pharmacy, and pharmacists are consistently rated among the most trusted health care providers.
5. Some members of Congress are trying to block a Biden Administration rule that would limit federal funds for anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers.”
- The proposed rule would prohibit states from sending federal funds earmarked for families in need to “crisis pregnancy centers”—faux health clinics run by anti-abortion organizations with the goal of deterring people from having abortions.
- These faux clinics have received roughly $500 million in taxpayer dollars from more than a dozen states since 2010.
Did you know?
Every state in the nation has a unique constitution, along with state courts free to recognize protection for rights, including abortion rights. So far, 12 state high courts have recognized that their constitutions protect abortion rights independently from the federal constitution, while four have denied that their state constitutions protect abortion rights independently from the federal constitution.
These are some of the highlights from State Constitutions and Abortion Rights, a new digital tool developed by the Center for Reproductive Rights. It features a state-by-state map showing the status of abortion rights in each state through state high court constitutional decisions. Explore the tool here.