Red states crack down on abortion pills

As the U.S. Supreme Court signals the potential end of Roe v. Wade, abortion rights activists are advertising abortion pills as a potential option in places where clinics might have to close — but several red states are already cracking down on the pills.

The big picture: Nearly half of US states have banned or severely restricted abortion pills – two drugs named mifepristone and misoprostol – and more may soon follow suit.

  • Before the pandemic, the FDA said patients seeking abortion pills had to obtain the drug from hospitals or medical facilities in person.
  • In April, the Biden administration lifted that requirement, opening up telemedicine access. The FDA is expected to decide next week whether this option will remain in place.

Driving the news: A new Texas law went into effect last week that completely bans the use of abortion pills after seven weeks of pregnancy.

  • Indiana bans pills after 10 weeks. The same is true for Oklahoma and Montana, although the courts have blocked these laws.
  • The Wyoming State Senate in March passed a bill to ban abortion pills altogether.
  • In Iowa and Ohio, laws require a physician to be present when a patient takes the drug. However, federal judges have blocked those laws, saying the requirement places an “undue burden” on women.

What they say : “I think virtually every conservative state could expect to see similar legislation in 2022,” Elizabeth Nash, a state policy expert at the Guttmacher Institute, told Axios.

And after: Some activists have pointed to new options that circumvent some telemedicine restrictions and operate in a legal gray area, including an online medical abortion provider, Aid Access, founded by a Dutch doctor in 2018, which will send abortion pills to the international.

  • Abortion rights advocates say people who want to end a pregnancy will use abortion pills regardless of the political landscape.
  • “It’s going to be in their hands in the United States, it’s inevitable,” said Elisa Wells, co-founder of Plan C, which provides information on how to access abortion pills online. “It’s modern medical technology that everyone should have access to. The question is whether people can use it under the radar without being criminalized.”

The other side: “Pro-life groups encourage states to take steps to install safeguards for women that will ensure they are aware of the risks when undergoing a chemical abortion,” said Prudence Robinson, communications associate at Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion association. advocacy group.

  • “And states are facing this threat head-on. This year alone, nearly 10 states have enacted state-level restrictions on this dangerous method of abortion.”

To note : South Dakota is the only state that bans mailing abortion pills by executive order instead of law. Governor Kristi Noem (right) has ordered the state’s health department to put in place a rule banning telemedicine for pills.

  • “That’s where states could try to go, and a new process that states could impose,” Nash said.
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