“U.S. Repro Watch” provides periodic updates on news of interest on U.S. reproductive rights. Here are four recent items you won’t want to miss:
1. Lawsuit threatening medication abortion: The Biden Administration urged a Texas court on January 13 to throw out the lawsuit against the FDA that could effectively ban medication abortion nationwide.
- The case, filed by anti-abortion groups, seeks to revoke FDA approval of mifepristone, one of two drugs used in a medication abortion. If the court sides with anti-abortion groups, every state—including states where abortion is legal—will lose all access to medication abortion.
- The FDA wrote that Americans would be “dramatically harmed” without access to mifepristone, “a safe and effective drug that has lawfully been on the market for twenty-two years.” A Maine abortion provider said that without mifepristone available, it would be forced to suspend abortion services at 17 of its 18 clinics across the largely rural state where care is already hard to access.
- Medication abortion has been proven to be exceptionally safe and effective. It accounts for more than half (54%) of all abortions in the U.S. and is the preferred method for many patients.
- “This should have been a fringe lawsuit, and it should have been tossed out very quickly,” said Senior Counsel Jenny Ma, commenting about the case in a New York Times article on various lawsuits involving medication abortion. “A single district court judge in Texas, which is a state that already has banned all abortion, could be issuing a nationwide ban on medication abortion, which now accounts for more than half of abortions in the United States, and obviously, the effects would be devastating,” added Ma.
- Vanity Fair also reported on the Texas case, and The Cut and The Atlantic reported on the campaign against medication abortion.
2. State legislators are continuing to push bills to both restrict and protect abortion.
- The Minnesota House passed the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act establishing a fundamental right to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, under state law. It now goes to the state Senate for consideration.
- New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez asked the state Supreme Court to block anti-abortion ordinances passed by local governments in the state. In a petition, the AG argued that the recent town ordinances restricting abortion access violate the state constitution.
- Montana legislators are considering a bill that would explicitly clarify that the state constitution does not protect the right to abortion. The legislation seeks to challenge the Montana Supreme Court’s 1999 decision, which recognized state constitutional protections for abortion.
- Wyoming lawmakers introduced legislation banning the use of abortion pills entirely.
- The Florida Supreme Court rejected the Center and partners’ request to block a law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. In a 4-1 decision, the court turned down a request to reverse the 1st District Court of Appeal’s ruling that allowed the law to stay in effect. The state Supreme Court also agreed to take up and hear the case; oral arguments have not yet been scheduled.
3. New York City unveiled plans to expand access to abortion and other reproductive health services.
- New York would become the first U.S. city to offer free abortion pills at public health clinics.
- Medication abortion is now available for free at a city-run health clinic in the Bronx. An additional three clinics across the city will offer the medication for free by the end of the year.
- The city also aims to improve sexual health education and address inequities in maternal health.
- The move is part of a $1.2 million package to expand access to health care.
4. January 22 marked the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.
- President Joe Biden issued a proclamation on January 20 commemorating the Roe decision and called on Congress to pass legislation codifying the right to abortion into federal law.
- Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about the anniversary in a speech in Florida on January 22.
- Center President and CEO Nancy Northup was interviewed about Roe Day and discussed the legal battlefield.
- Since the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe, abortion has become unavailable in 14 states.
Did you know?
New research found that people living in states with abortion bans are three times more likely to die during pregnancy, childbirth, or soon after giving birth compared to those in states where abortion is accessible. Communities of color face even greater dangers. The maternal mortality rate is 4.5 times higher for Native American women and 2.6 times higher for Black women compared to their white counterparts.
Another study found that expanding Medicaid coverage for pregnant people could aid in reducing many of these preventable deaths. So far this year, eight states have introduced bills to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage to one year after childbirth.