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Next Front In U.S. Reproductive Conflict Will Be Abortion Pills

As conservative US states race to adopt abortion bans in response to the Supreme Court’s seismic decision, the struggle over reproductive rights in the United States is prepared to shift to a new battleground: abortion-inducing medications.

With few other options available, the Biden administration will focus on expanding access to abortion pills for women living in states where the procedure is banned or restricted, despite the likelihood that these states and influential conservative organisations will mount legal challenges to prevent their use.

On Friday, after the Supreme Court shredded 50 years of constitutional protections for abortion rights, President Joe Biden instructed health officials to ensure that abortion drugs are available to American women.

In a televised address to the nation, he declared, “I will do all in my power to preserve the rights of women in states where they will be affected by today’s judgement.”

Pills, which can be used without considerable danger to terminate a pregnancy up to 10 weeks gestation, are already responsible for half of all abortions performed in the United States.

After 11 states, primarily in the Republican-led, conservative South, have moved to severely restrict or outright ban abortion, the demand for abortion is expected to increase even more.

Already on Saturday, some demonstrators outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, displayed posters with information on where women can obtain abortion pills, while others shouted “My body, my choice.”

Rebecca Gomperts, a Dutch physician who runs Aid Access, an Austria-based organisation that sells abortion pills over the internet, is confident that the current situation for American women is not as dire as it was 50 years ago, before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalised abortion in the United States.

“Abortion pills cannot be prevented,” Gomperts said in a phone interview with AFP. If a woman suffers an unintended pregnancy, she will always have access to safe abortion.

After Friday’s verdict, however, it may be difficult to do this.


The Food and Drug Administration, the United States health regulator, authorised the use of abortion pills two decades ago and last year made it possible for them to be prescribed via telemedicine and sent via mail.

However, its usage in anti-abortion states remains a legal grey area and is likely to become a flashpoint in future court disputes over reproductive rights.

The use of abortion pills to end a pregnancy will be the next battleground in America’s fight for reproductive rights.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research organisation, 19 states in the United States require that abortion pills be physically provided by a practitioner, hence forbidding their delivery via mail.

And in states that restrict all forms of abortion, women may be prevented from pursuing telehealth meetings with out-of-state physicians or international clinicians, such as Gomperts’ organisation.

In this instance, they may be required to travel to a state that permits reproductive telehealth sessions and have the prescription shipped to an out-of-state address.

However, there is an additional obstacle.

A pharmaceutical abortion needs two drugs: first, a dose of mifepristone to inhibit the hormones that sustain a pregnancy; then, 24 to 48 hours later, misoprostol to induce contractions.

This raises the question of whether a woman from a state with anti-abortion laws can be prosecuted if she receives the first dose of an abortion drug outside of her home state and then takes the second dose upon her return.

As liberal states take steps to facilitate abortions for women from other regions of the country, there are concerns that conservative states may seek to prosecute health staff and advocacy groups involved in these initiatives, as well as the patients themselves.

Anticipating such intentions, Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland warned on Friday that states cannot ban abortion drugs allowed by the federal government “based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgement about its safety and efficacy” because federal law preempts state law.

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Anti-abortion crusader Savannah Craven stated that she and her colleagues will strive to outlaw all abortion methods, including the use of pills, throughout the United States as these legal battles set to play out.

“I believe in the sacredness and value of human life. Life commences in the womb and at conception “She said,

But Elizabeth Kellogg and her husband Dan Reitz, who protested in front of the Supreme Court with their eight-month-old daughter Lorelei, were unmoved by the argument.

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