Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

Abortion pill access could still face challenges after Supreme Court decision

By 37ci3 Jun15,2024

Anti-abortion groups show no signs of backing down from their legal fight to limit access to abortion pills, even after Thursday’s Supreme Court victory upheld the pills. Available in 36 states.

Although the court’s decision was unanimous, it was somewhat limited. The justices agreed that anti-abortion doctors lacked legal standing to sue the Food and Drug Administration over actions it took in recent years to make it easier to get mifepristone, one of two pills involved in drug abortions.

This decision does little to slow the broader movement to limit access.

Three states plan to continue the case in federal district court to make the pills more difficult to obtain. Reproductive lawyers are also awaiting efforts by anti-abortion activists or lawmakers to revive a 151-year-old federal law that would have banned abortion pills from being sent through the mail. Other abortion access advocates predict that a second Trump administration will lead to similar restrictions.

“The pushback against women’s health and reproductive care is not going to stop because of this case,” said Clara Spera, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center.

Idaho, Kansas and Missouri intend to stake their claim. Earlier this year, those states successfully intervened in a case in federal district court in Amarillo, Texas, after the Supreme Court upheld the FDA’s appeal of lower court rulings restricting access to the drug.

“We may see this case continue in Amarillo through the attorneys general of Idaho, Missouri, and Kansas, or we may see those states bring new copycat lawsuits elsewhere, making the same junk science attacks on mifepristone and similarly trying to eliminate access to mifepristone nationwide,” said the ACLU Reproductive Julia Kaye, senior staff attorney at the Freedom Project.

Whether the states can effectively take the case away from the group of anti-abortion doctors who originally sued is likely to be hotly contested. Some legal experts say the entire lawsuit should be dismissed now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the original plaintiffs do not have standing.

“I think the Texas case should be over if the plaintiffs don’t stop,” said attorney Adam Unikowsky, who argued the case before the Supreme Court in Washington.

But Kristen Waggoner, CEO and general counsel of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group that represents doctors protesting the FDA, said she expects the case to continue in court.

“The states will take it to court and we will continue to support the states,” he said. “So it’s not over yet.”

Wagoner pointed to two arguments that he said give the states standing to continue the case: First, he said, allowing abortion pills to be mailed overturns state laws. Second, she said, states suffer economic harm by caring for women who experience side effects from the pill.

“States will need to provide more assistance and more assistance with taxpayer dollars and public resources to protect and support women in need,” she said.

Medical abortion is legal in some form in 36 states and Washington 63% of abortions in the US in 2023 — more than half in 2020, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that advocates access to abortion.

The standard two-pill regimen for medication abortion has one 0.4% risk of major complication.

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By 37ci3

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