Last week in Texas, a Trump-appointed judge placed a nationwide ban on the use of the drug mifepristone, which is used in medication abortions. Over half of all abortions in the U.S. use oral medication, rather than a clinical procedure. The drugs used for medication abortions – mifepristone and misoprostol – have been F.D.A.-approved since 2000.
The ruling is being battled out in the courts, likely on its way to the Supreme Court. One ruling restricted the availability of the medication nationwide so that patients will only be able to access the medication through a doctor’s office or clinic, and will not be able to receive the pill through the mail or directly from a pharmacy. And it limited patient access to mifepristone through seven weeks of pregnancy, instead of the ten weeks for which the drug has been approved for over 23 years.
As of this writing, a Washington state, U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice, ruled that the drug is to remain available without any restrictions, but only in the 17 states and the District of Columbia, which have not passed abortion bans.
Since these rulings, order for abortion pills has skyrocketed.
Right-wing Republicans, many funded by the same right-wing Christian groups that helped fund the effort to overturn Roe v. Wade, have their sights on banning medication abortion because already more than half of all abortions in the U.S. are medication abortions, and those numbers have been increasing. Their strategy here is to get the ruling appealed to the Supreme Court level, where they expect it will be upheld.
This latest denial of abortion access attempts to expand the attack to include women and pregnant people nationwide, regardless of the state they live in. The Supreme Court already showed what side it’s on when it overturned Roe v. Wade. Recently Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been shown to have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in unreported funding from the right-wing billionaire and Republican donor, Harlan Crow, for over 20 years. We have a clear idea of what we can expect from the courts, and it has nothing to do with the interests of women and pregnant people.
As abortion access is continually stripped away, putting women and pregnant people’s lives in danger, the Democrats continue with the empty promise that they will fight this. But they don’t, and the abortion bans continue, along with the criminalization of those who have abortions, those who perform abortions, and even those who help others access abortion services.
This latest partial ban on medication abortion is a message to everyone that our future, our health, the health of women and pregnant people, cannot be left for the courts to decide. It depends on the efforts of regular people to stand up to this assault, and organize our power to resist these attacks – the same way the fight for abortion access was won in the first place.