U.S. Repro Watch provides periodic updates on news of interest on U.S. reproductive rights. Here are three recent items you won’t want to miss:
1. In response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners, a Montana administrative rule that would have effectively eliminated abortion access for Montanans insured through Medicaid was blocked.
- The new rule would create numerous new barriers to abortion access for Montanans on Medicaid, including by restricting the provision of abortion for Medicaid-eligible Montanans to physicians and by requiring Medicaid members to undergo an unnecessary physical exam—which would eliminate access to medication abortion via telehealth. It would also require patients to obtain prior authorization and submit various documentation to the State.
- The lawsuit succeeded in obtaining a temporary restraining order on May 1 to block the rule, which would have been enforced starting May 8. The lawsuit argues that the rule violates the Montana Constitution.
2. Anti-abortion laws were passed in some states and voted down in others.
- The Kansas legislature overrode Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of an anti-abortion measure that criminalizes decision-making around compassionate care for newborns with fatal conditions and allows the state to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. The law is Kansas’s first anti-abortion measure to be enacted since voters rejected an amendment that would have taken away state constitutional protections for abortion.
- In Ohio, state lawmakers are advancing a constitutional amendment that would require ballot measures to pass with 60% of the votes instead of a simple majority. Legislators are pushing to put the amendment to a vote during a special election in August, a few months before a protective abortion rights measure may be on the ballot.
- In South Carolina, a proposal for a total abortion ban failed to pass this session.
- In Nebraska, a six-week abortion ban also failed to advance.
3. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is now considering an order by a federal district court in Texas that disrupted the FDA’s 2000 approval of mifepristone.
- After the appellate court largely upheld Judge Kacsmaryk’s order and attempted to reinstate burdensome restrictions on the drug, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the lower court’s decision on April 21, leaving the medication available while the case proceeds.
- The hearing at the Fifth Circuit will be held May 17 at 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET. Click here for information to access the livestream and read all about the case, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, here.
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. The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. CT/11 a.m. ET.
May 9–10: Meeting on over-the-counter birth control.
- The FDA will meet to discuss whether the agency should allow a birth control pill to be sold over the counter. The pill, called Opill from drugmaker HRA Pharma, is currently approved by the FDA but is only available with a prescription.
- If approved, Opill would be the first birth control pill available over the counter in the U.S.
May 17: Hearing in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA.
- See #3 above for details.
Did you know?
A new study details the emotional toll on patients who are forced to travel out of state for abortion care. Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) spoke to several patients and found that having to travel to obtain abortion care caused immense stress, anxiety, and shame. For many, the distress stemmed from having to go to an unfamiliar place for care without their support networks. The fact that they were denied an abortion in their own home state also had emotional consequences and contributed to feelings of stigma.
With more states considering restrictions on abortion and a looming threat over medication abortion access, more people will be forced to travel across state lines and longer distances for care.