Biden administration, states brace for potential legal battles over abortion pills

WASHINGTON D.C. — The Biden administration is warning that some states may try to restrict access to government-approved abortion pills and contraception in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade last month.

“Those who want to ban all abortions, their next moves are going to be medicated abortion and travel across state line,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre this week. “So, we wanted to make that clear … and make sure we got ahead of that if you will, as we’re seeing what we’re seeing across the states with the ban, the banning of abortion, for the next round of attacks.”

The U.S. Department of Justice has said that states cannot ban FDA-approved abortion medication and states could face legal challenges if they do so anyway.

The FDA first approved abortion medication in 2000.

Mifeprex and Mifepristone are FDA-approved drugs to terminate a pregnancy, up until 10 weeks through medication.

In a statement on June 24, 2022, following the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, Attorney General Merrick Garland said: “We stand ready to work with other arms of the federal government that seek to use their lawful authorities to protect and preserve access to reproductive care. In particular, the FDA has approved the use of the medication Mifepristone. States may not ban Mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy.”

During the pandemic, the federal government changed the rules to allow abortion pills to be prescribed through telemedicine and mailed to the patient.

But there are still many state-level restrictions.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that supports abortion rights, 19 states banned the use of telemedicine to prescribe abortion pills.

The organization also says 32 states require physicians to administer abortion pills, even though the FDA also allows other health care providers, like a nurse practitioner, to administer abortion pills.

Some states are already taking preemptive measures to avoid legal problems.

For example, abortion clinics in Montana will no longer offer abortion pills to some out-of-state patients to avoid lawsuits and criminal charges.

Abortion bans or severe restrictions have already or will take effect in more than half of U.S. states.

“We’re going to be saving a number of, thousands of lives, of unborn children through the steps that have been taken,” said Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican.

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