Much of the country is still mourning the June 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade (1973); however, the attacks on reproductive rights have only just begun. Prior to the Dobbs v. Jackson (2022) decision, many women began to protest the predicted decision of the Supreme Court, recognizing its implications. For example, it was widely recognized that people of color would be disproportionately affected by the decision to strike down Roe v. Wade, since it is understood that they may not have the luxury nor the funds to travel to another state in order to receive reproductive care. Moreover, it was predicted that there would be increased deaths among pregnant women, more attempts at self-managed abortion, increased economic challenges for pregnant people, and much more.
The ruling to strike down the fifty years of Constitutional protection for abortion has adversely impacted the lives of millions of Americans. Still, even that action wasn’t enough for anti-abortion advocates. Women’s healthcare and reproductive rights have been under constant attack since, and just recently, there have been more movements to further restrict the rights of Americans today. 55% of Americans now identify as pro-choice, the highest percentage since 1995. Since much of the country is discontent with the nation’s reproductive health initiatives and the efforts of many legislators to redefine abortion access, we must combat any efforts by the government or organizations that desire to make life much more difficult for most Americans.
Beginning in November 2022, anti-abortion advocates filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) challenging its twenty-year-old approval of Mifepristone, a drug that accounts for more than half of the abortions in this country. Mifepristone inhibits the production of the hormone progesterone, which prepares the uterine lining for a fertilized egg to grow. And, according to a study from the Guttmacher Institute, “98% of medication abortions in the U.S. used the mifepristone and misoprostol combination.” With this medication, the uterine lining stops thickening and detaches the embryo, expelling its contents. Medication abortion has been a substitute for the surgical abortion procedure for many in the country since access to clinics may not be readily available for some Americans. Therefore, should the motion to ban it proceed federally, doctors would be unable to prescribe it. Such a measure could potentially inhibit abortion access, even in states where it is legal. However, if the FDA to repeals their approval of mifepristone, many argue that there is still misoprostol, the less famous alternative that serves a similar purpose. Misoprostol is typically taken after mifepristone as the last step of a two-step process, and many doctors are preparing to prescribe it should a patient request it. It is believed that in larger doses, misoprostol can also terminate a pregnancy on its own. Due to the fact that misoprostol is used for purposes other than abortions—including treatment for stomach ulcers—it is unlikely to be involved in a similar case like mifepristone. Nevertheless, banning the drug will still negatively impact people, as it is less effective on its own, and the case itself can delay the process of reproductive treatment for many.
The group responsible for this attempt to further restrict abortion access is known as Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine (AHM). AHM and Alliance Defending Freedom, recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and have also been previously involved in helping to write the Mississippi law that was employed to overturn Roe v. Wade. In relation to abortion, AHM believes that abortion is not healthcare, and today, more than 30,000 members uphold the fundamental principles of this organization. Most importantly, they uphold the principle of “protecting the vulnerable at the beginning and end of life.” Therefore, some of the claims coming from these anti-abortion advocates concerning the case state “the drug is not safe and that the FDA didn’t study it enough to approve it.” However, the drug was approved more than two decades ago and many studies have proven its safety and efficacy. Due to this, many argue that their case “has no basis in law” and attempts to “distort decades of scientific evidence.” Regardless, AHM hopes to make the sending and receiving of mifepristone and any other abortion medication illegal in the United States.
The judge to rule on Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. The Food and Drug Administration in Texas is Matthew Kacsmaryk, a United States district judge of the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas and a Trump appointee known to be affiliated with the religious right. Before his position as a federal judge, Kacsmaryk argued against same-sex marriage, birth control, abortion, and sex outside of marriage. More specifically, concerning women’s health, he has argued for “the ability of pharmacists to deny critical health care services to women,” including access to emergency contraceptives. Thus, it is argued that due to his record, “he would not be able to rule fairly and impartially in cases involving those issues.” Should he proceed with the predicted decision, the ability for Americans to quickly and easily access abortion within the confines and privacy of their homes will be compromised. And, unfortunately, for many states already impacted by the Dobbs decision in June 2022, medicated abortion was their only practical option remaining. The impacts of the previous decisions have already proven detrimental; however, conditions can worsen should Kacsmaryk vote in favor of AHM.
The future of reproductive health in this country continues to look unfavorable and unpromising. It is apparent that the cries for abortion access from people all over the nation are being ignored, and a once secure right for many women and others has been diminished into a political “play-thing” for many politicians. While the country continues to debate the nature of abortion, many people nationwide are facing unwanted—and in some cases, unsafe—pregnancies without being able to access what is necessary for their specific health and living conditions. Therefore, it is crucial that Americans not only vote for those who will fight to uphold the rights of all citizens but also for those who will protect and adequately serve their constituents as well.