Red states crack down on abortion pills


As the Supreme Court a possible end to the Roe versus Wade, Abortion rights activists are touting abortion pills as a potential option in places clinics may have to close – but several red states are already cracking down on the pills.

The big picture: Almost half of the US states have banned or severely restricted abortion pills – two drugs called mifepristone and misoprostol – and more may be coming soon.

  • Prior to the pandemic, the FDA said that patients seeking abortion pills must receive the drug in person from hospitals or medical facilities.
  • In April, the Biden government lifted this requirement and opened access via telemedicine. The FDA is expected to decide next week whether this option remains.

Driving the news: ONE new Texas law came into effect last week completely banning the use of abortion pills after seven weeks of pregnancy.

  • Indiana bans the pills after 10 weeks. Oklahoma and Montana too, though the courts have blocked those laws.
  • The Wyoming State Senate passed bill in March with the aim of completely banning abortion pills.
  • In Iowa and Ohio laws require the presence of a doctor when a patient is taking the drug. However, federal judges blocked these laws, saying the requirement placed an “undue burden” on women.

What you say: “I think pretty much every state that is on the conservative side could expect similar laws in 2022,” Elizabeth Nash, state policy expert at the Guttmacher Institute, told Axios.

What’s next: Some activists have pointed out newer options that bypass certain telemedicine limitations and act in a legal gray area, including an online medication abortion provider, Aid Access, which was founded in 2018 by a Dutch doctor and will ship abortion pills internationally.

  • Proponents of abortion rights say people trying to terminate pregnancy will use abortion pills regardless of the political landscape.
  • “It’s going to be in their hands in the US, it’s inevitable,” said Elisa Wells, co-founder of Plan C, which provides information on how to access abortion pills online. “This is modern medical technology that everyone should have access to. Whether people can use it under the radar without being criminalized is the question.”

The other side: “Pro-life groups are encouraging states to take steps to put in place protective measures for women to make sure they are aware of the risks of chemical abortion,” said Prudence Robinson, communications officer at Susan B. Anthony List, an anti – Abortion advocacy.

  • “And states are directly exposed to that threat. This year alone, nearly 10 states have government restrictions on this dangerous method of abortion.”

Remarkable: South Dakota is the only state that sends abortion pills via supreme command instead of legislation. Governor Kristi Noem (R) instructed the state health department to enact a rule banning telemedicine for the pills.

  • “This is where states could try to leave and states could impose a new process,” said Nash.


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