This “U.S. Repro Watch” is the first in a series of updates on news of interest on reproductive rights in the United States. Here are five recent items you won’t want to miss:
An article in the Huffington Post, “Looming ‘Apocalyptic’ Court Decision Could Ban Abortion Pills Nationwide,” discusses the serious threat to abortion access posed by a case filed against the FDA by a conservative legal organization challenging the agency’s approval of mifepristone, an abortion medication.
- If successful, the case—which is before a federal district court in Amarillo, Texas—would effectively ban medication abortion in all U.S. states.
- The case follows a recent move by the FDA to make abortion medication more accessible by allowing retail and online pharmacies to directly provide medication to patients. (See #4 below.)
2. The Idaho Supreme Court ruled on January 5 that the state’s constitution does not protect the right to abortion, upholding several abortion bans.
- Under review were three anti-abortion laws—a total abortion ban, a six-week ban, and a bounty-hunting law mimicking Texas’ S.B. 8.
- In a 3-2 decision, the state’s high court dismissed the challenge to the laws and ruled that the state constitution, which dates back to the 1800s, does not protect the right to abortion.
- In her dissent, Idaho Supreme Court Colleen Zahn wrote that “Idaho’s Constitution did not freeze rights as they existed in 1890.”
3. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled on January 5 that the right to abortion is protected by the state constitution.
- In a 3-2 decision, the majority of the court struck down a six-week abortion ban, calling it an “unreasonable invasion of privacy” and a violation of the state constitution.
- In the lead opinion, Justice Kaye Hearn noted that the state constitutional right to privacy includes abortion, writing “Few decisions in life are more private than the decision whether to terminate a pregnancy.”
- Abortion remains legal up to 22 weeks of pregnancy in South Carolina.
4. The FDA said on January 3 that it will allow pharmacies to dispense medication abortion in states where abortion is legal.
- Previously, patients had to get medication abortion directly from a clinic or doctor. Now they will be able to get it at retail and mail-order pharmacies with a prescription.
- Major retail pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens have already announced plans to offer the medication where they can.
- In the 12 states where abortion is illegal, people will still be unable to access medication and other abortion care in their states.
5. Several state abortion policies took effect at the beginning of the new year.
- A new California law allows nurse practitioners and physician assistants to provide abortion care without supervision from a doctor. A law designed to protect abortion providers and patients from out-of-state investigations is also now in effect.
- In New York, private insurers that cover maternity care are now required to also cover abortion services.
- New Jersey announced it would award $15 million to help clinics providing abortion care upgrade their facilities and increase security.
January 19: Arguments scheduled at the Indiana Supreme Court on the state’s total abortion ban.
- Abortion providers challenged the ban in August, arguing that it violates the state constitution.
- Indiana passed the law during a special session this past summer, making it the first state to pass new legislation banning abortion after Roe was overturned.
- The hearing, scheduled for 9 a.m., will be livestreamed here.
Did You Know?
An Idaho woman was forced to endure a miscarriage for 19 days after being turned away from emergency rooms numerous times. Despite experiencing severe pain and bleeding, doctors refused her request for a standard surgical procedure—used both in miscarriage treatment and abortion care. This is likely due to the state’s extreme abortion bans. The Idaho Supreme Court upheld three abortion bans this week, including the state’s total ban.