SIOUX FALLS, SD ( Associated Press) — Last year, a 32-year-old South Dakota woman took two trips across state lines to take abortion pills, navigate snowy roads and a patchwork of state laws.
For abortion seekers like her, such trips, with pills sent through the mail, will grow in importance if the Supreme Court follows up on the opinion of its leaked draft that the landmark Roe v. Wade’s decision and allow individual states to restrict. Process. The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was concerned for the safety of her family, said the abortion pills allowed her to terminate an unexpected and high-risk pregnancy and remain devoted to her two children. Gave.
But anti-abortion activists and politicians say they will try to stop further cross-border trips, remote doctor consultations and pill delivery.
“Drug abortion will be where access to abortion is decided,” said Florida State University College of Law professor Mary Ziegler. “It’s going to be the battlefield that decides how enforceable the abortion restrictions are.”
The use of abortion pills in the US has been on the rise since 2000 when the Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone — the main drug used in the drug abortion. More than half of American abortions are now performed with pills instead of surgery, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.
The FDA last year removed a long-standing requirement that women personally pick up abortion pills. Mail delivery has also now been allowed across the country.
Those moves have boosted online services that provide information about obtaining abortion pills and counseling to obtain prescriptions. After the woman in South Dakota found that the state’s only abortion clinic couldn’t schedule her on time for a drug abortion, she found an online service called Just the Pill, which advised her to go to Minnesota for a phone consultation with a doctor. , A week later, she came back to Minnesota for pills.
She took the first car in her car almost immediately, then cried as soon as she left the house.
“I felt like I had lost the pregnancy,” she said. “I love my husband and I love my kids and I knew exactly what to say goodbye and it was a really terrible thing.”
South Dakota is one of several states, including Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas, Ohio, Tennessee and Oklahoma, where Republicans have moved to restrict access to abortion pills in recent months. South Dakota Gov. Christie Noem said additional, in-person visits to the pills and restrictions on sending them via mail are necessary to protect women’s safety and “unborn babies.” A total of 19 states require a physician to be physically present when abortion pills are administered to a patient.
In addition to crossing state lines, women can also turn to online pharmacies internationally, said Greer Donnelly, a professor specializing in reproductive health care at the University of Pittsburgh Law School. Some women even prescribed pills are being forwarded through the states without any restrictions.
“It allows anyone to have an abortion without the direct role of a provider. It’s going to be very difficult for states to control abortion access,” she said, “the question is how it’s going to be implemented.” ?”
Susan B. Sue Leibel, state policy director for Anthony List, a leading anti-abortion body, acknowledged that this is an issue that has “ripened” on Republican state lawmakers.
“It’s a new frontier and states are grappling with enforcement mechanisms,” she said, “the advice I always give — if you close the front door, the bullets are going to come in the back door.”
In keeping with the long-standing doctrine of many abortion opponents, Leibel said that women should not be prosecuted for seeking abortions. She suggested that the next target for state enforcement should be pharmacies, organizations and clinics that provide abortion pills. She also said that abortion-rights opponents should focus on choosing a presidential candidate who would serve to reverse the FDA’s decision.
The FDA said a scientific review supported widespread access to the drugs and found that complications were rare. The agency has reported 26 drug-related deaths since 2000, although not all of them can be directly attributed to the drug due to existing health conditions and other factors.
However, with new legal battles on the horizon and abortion seekers seeking to get the procedure done, law school professor Donnelly worried that state lawmakers would turn their attention to women who get the pills.
Indeed, a Louisiana House committee on Wednesday introduced a bill that would make abortion a homicide offense for which a woman who terminated her pregnancy could be charged, as well as anyone helping her.
“Many anti-abortion legislators may feel that the only way to enforce these laws is to prosecute the pregnant person themselves,” Donnelly said.