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. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to reinstate significant restrictions on mifepristone but not to revoke the FDA’s approval of the drug.
- The Aug. 16 ruling in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA will not take effect due to an order issued in April by the U.S. Supreme Court. For now, mifepristone remains available under current regulations.
- If the ruling were to take effect, it would reintroduce several burdensome pre-2016 regulations that would make it more difficult for people to obtain abortion care, including a requirement that patients access the drug in person. The restrictions would prohibit the drug from being sent through the mail or prescribed through telemedicine.
- The lawsuit against the FDA was filed by anti-abortion advocates in November 2022 to challenge the FDA’s initial approval of mifepristone and its more recent actions to increase access to the drug. Learn more about the case here.
2. The EEOC published a rule to ensure broad legal protections for pregnant workers.
- Proposed Aug. 7, the rule from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lays out a broad application of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), a federal law that took effect last month.
- PWFA requires employers to provide workers with “reasonable accommodations” during pregnancy, postpartum recovery and other related medical conditions.
- The commission proposed numerous accommodations that workers may seek under the law and said that the rule applies to having an abortion, using birth control and menstruation, among other conditions. The rule was officially published Aug. 11, kicking off a 60-day comment period.
3. In other state news:
- In Missouri, anti-abortion advocates have filed yet another lawsuit attempting to dispute the cost of an abortion rights ballot measure. The challenge comes just weeks after the Missouri Supreme Court rejected an attempt from the Attorney General to overinflate the cost of the initiative.
- In Idaho, several professors and two teachers’ unions are suing the state over a law which prohibits public employees from “promoting” or “counseling in favor of abortion.” The plaintiffs argue that the law, which threatens up to 14 years in prison, prevents professors from teaching or discussing abortion in their classrooms and thus violates their free speech rights.
- In Alabama, a group of midwives and doctors are challenging the state health department’s regulations that require birth centers to be licensed as hospitals. Plaintiffs are asking the judge to block what the lawsuit calls a “de facto ban on birth centers.”
Did you know?
Nearly every state has poor access to maternal mental health care, according to the Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health’s inaugural “Maternal Mental Health State Report Card.”
The report grades states based on several indicators of maternal mental health, including access to therapy, insurance coverage and mental health screenings during and after pregnancy. Several states that have banned abortion—including Texas, Mississippi and Alabama—received F grades, and only one state in the nation received a grade higher than a C (California, which scored a B-). The U.S. as a whole received a grade of D.
Multiple studies have shown that being denied an abortion gravely impacts people’s mental health, and the impacts of the lack of access to mental health care will likely worsen under abortion bans. Restrictive states also exclude mental health in exceptions to abortion bans—despite the fact that mental health conditions are the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S.
Check out the report’s interactive map here.
Sept. 8 @ 9 a.m. ET: Hearing on Florida’s 15-week abortion ban.
- The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments over a 15-week abortion ban that was passed months before Roe v. Wade was overturned. The Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners filed a case challenging the law in June 2022.
- Earlier this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis also signed a six-week abortion ban into law that will be triggered if the Florida Supreme Court upholds the 15-week ban.