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. U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on case threatening access to medication abortion across the country.
- On April 14, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked a radical court order that would threaten access to the abortion pill mifepristone. The Court extended its administrative stay through midnight April 21 as it considers the FDA’s emergency request to protect the drug.
- Hundreds of experts in medicine, health, law, policy and justice—including the Center and its movement partners—have submitted amicus briefs in support of the FDA and urging the Court to block the lower court’s decision attempting to revoke the FDA’s approval of mifepristone.
- Read all about the case, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, here.
- In a separate case, a federal judge in Washington ruled to keep mifepristone available under the current regulations in 17 states involved in the lawsuit.
2. The Biden Administration proposed a new rule to protect reproductive health information for both abortion providers and patients.
- The new rule would prohibit health care providers and others from disclosing confidential reproductive health information to law enforcement, protecting the information of patients who obtain abortion in states where it is legal.
- The proposal—which would strengthen existing privacy protections under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)—will soon be open for comments for 60 days before it is finalized.
3. State officials pushed proposals to both restrict and protect abortion.
- Florida lawmakers passed a six-week abortion ban, which was quickly signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The ban will take effect if the Florida Supreme Court upholds its existing 15-week ban, which is being challenged in court by the Center.
- Nebraska legislators also advanced a ban after about six weeks of pregnancy.
- The Washington legislature passed two interstate shield bills protecting those providing and obtaining abortion and gender-affirming care from legal actions by other states. The bills were sent to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.
4. The U.S. Senate voted down an effort to repeal a VA regulation that lifted its complete ban on abortion.
- On April 19, an effort by abortion opponents to repeal a regulation that lifted the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) complete ban on abortion was narrowly defeated.
- The resolution attempted to reverse the VA policy in effect since September 2022 that allowed veterans and eligible family members and caretakers to access abortion care through the VA in cases of rape, incest, and in cases of life or health endangerment of the pregnant person.
- The Biden administration had threatened to veto the attempt to invalidate the VA policy.
April 24: Hearing on interpretation of Idaho’s total ban.
- A federal court in Idaho will hear arguments over the state Attorney General Raúl Labrador’s interpretation that the state’s total abortion ban prohibits health care providers from referring patients out of state for abortion care.
May 4: Hearing on Wisconsin’s pre-Roe ban.
- A state court will hear arguments over Wisconsin’s total criminal abortion ban dating back to 1849. Soon after Roe was overturned, Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit arguing that the ban was unenforceable. Confusion over the status of the law has forced providers to suspend abortion care in the state.
Did you know?
New data from the Society of Family Planning show that the number of abortions provided by virtual clinic providers skyrocketed since Roe was overturned. Comparing April and December 2022, there was a 137% increase in the number of abortions provided by virtual-only telehealth providers.
In 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA lifted a requirement forcing patients to get mifepristone in person at a doctor’s office, hospital, or health center, paving the way for virtual abortion clinics. In January 2023, after conducting a comprehensive review, the FDA made the rule change permanent to expand access to medication abortion from a local pharmacy or by mail. The policy is at issue due to Fifth Circuit’s recent decision in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, mentioned above.