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Last Week’s Bad News
MIFEPRISTONE – MEDICATION ABORTION
Last Wednesday, the case to ban mifepristone nationwide was heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. Considered to be one of the most conservative in the country, the court has consistently ruled against the Biden Justice Department.
The outcome before the 5th Circuit looks bleak. The three-court panel was exceedingly “unfriendly”, verging on snarky, to attorneys representing the Justice Department and mifepristone distributor Danco Laboratories. In contrast, they were welcoming to attorneys for the plaintiffs, a coalition of anti-abortion national medical associations under the umbrella of the “Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine” plus several doctors.
This case started in Texas and was heard by a Trump-appointed U.S. district court judge, who decided to outlaw mifepristone—one of the two pills in medication abortion. It made its way through the 5th Circuit to the US Supreme Court, which sent it back to the 5th Circuit.
Before sending it back, the Supreme Court did preserve access to mifepristone, and thus to medication abortion, by freezing both lower-court rulings while the appeals are being heard. (Justices Thomas and Alito dissented.)
Mifepristone has been used safely in combination with misoprostol to terminate pregnancies since it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 23 years ago. It has been approved in 90 other countries. More than half of U.S. abortions are medication abortions.
As reported in The New York Times: “The case is the most important abortion-related dispute to reach the high court since the justices overturned Roe v. Wade, triggering conservative states across the country to either ban or severely restrict the procedure. How the dispute over medication abortion is ultimately resolved could make it more difficult for women to obtain abortion, even in the states that still allow it.”
The plaintiffs’ goal is to end access to medication abortion nationwide.
It is expected that this case will ultimately return to the US Supreme Court for a decision.
THE COMSTOCK LAW
Anti-choice extremists are seeking to use the 1873 Comstock Law to block the distribution of medication abortion through the mail. Passed at a time that America was obsessed with a puritanical morality, the long-dormant Comstock Law forbade the mailing of pornography, obscene literature, contraceptives and abortifacients. Women’s advocacy organizations have been seeking the repeal of this law for years.
In Texas, on April 7, 2023, US District Judge Kacsmaryk resurrected the 150-year-old Comstock Law when deciding to outlaw mifepristone. If it is allowed to stay on the books, the impact could be devastating. Imagine if the Comstock Law is used to prohibit the mailing of medication abortion pills. Hundreds of thousands of women in states where abortion access is extremely limited and/or who live in rural areas will not have access to abortion care.
It won’t matter what governor is stockpiling pills. We won’t be able to distribute them. These decisions directly impact New York State.
Abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy will be banned in North Carolina as of July 1, 2023.
On May 4th, the legislation sped through Republican-controlled legislature, along a party-line vote. The Democratic Governor vetoed it, and, on May 16th, the GOP legislature overrode his veto.
South Carolina is, the last safe haven in the southeast, moving closer to a near total abortion ban.
The Take-Away – JUDGES MATTER – VOTING MATTERS
Every year you vote for candidates for Family, County, and Supreme Court, along with candidates for other offices. It is important to remember that just because a candidate adds a “D” after their name does not mean they are “pro-choice”.
Learn as much as you can. All candidates, including judges, try to move up the ladder to higher office. Every candidate and every office matters.