The Quickie: New Lawsuits State Bans on Medication Abortion
For Immediate Release: Jan. 26, 2023
Welcome to “The Quickie” — Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s daily tipsheet on the top health care & reproductive rights stories of the day. You can read “The Quickie'' online here.
In today’s Quickie: new lawsuits challenge state bans on medication abortion, repro rights champions block abortion bans in Virginia, New Yorkers to vote on Equal Rights Amendment in 2024, and mother and daughter share abortion stories 50 years apart.
NEW LAWSUITS CHALLENGE STATE BANS ON MEDICATION ABORTION: Yesterday, two new lawsuits were filed that challenge state restrictions on medication abortion, the most common way to end a pregnancy. In West Virginia, GenBioPro, a manufacturer of mifepristone–the first of two medications used in a medication abortion–filed a suit in federal court against the state’s ban on the medication. And in North Carolina, Dr. Amy Bryant filed a lawsuit challenging state-imposed restrictions on medication abortion care. Both lawsuits claim that these state bans and restrictions are preempted by federal law.
Mifepristone is safe, effective, and has been used by more than 4 million people since the FDA approved it more than 20 years ago. The FDA also recently lifted burdensome requirements placed on medication abortion by rescinding in-person dispensing requirements and allowing mail-order pharmacies and pharmacies with physical locations to be certified to dispense mifepristone. Jacqueline Ayers, PPFA’s senior vice president of policy, organizing, and campaigns, applauded the new legal efforts:
“It is unsafe – and frankly unlawful – for state lawmakers to act contrary to the rigorous and scientific decision- making of the FDA. Planned Parenthood strongly supports our partners’ legal efforts to re-establish federal authority over patient safety and safeguard access to mifepristone, which come at the same time as a separate lawsuit in Texas tries to take it off the market. Given the ongoing abortion access crisis, we encourage the courts to act quickly.”
Read more at the New York Times.
NO ABORTION BANS IN VIRGINIA: This morning, legislative champions in Virginia’s Senate Education and Health Committee blocked three proposed abortion bans, officially preventing any from advancing to the Senate floor. The defeat of all three bills — which included both a total ban and the 15-week ban pushed by Gov. Youngkin — is a major victory for reproductive freedom and for Virginians’ continued ability to make their own private health care decisions.
“Despite Gov. Youngkin and his allies’ relentless efforts to undermine our health and rights, today we reaffirmed that there is no place for abortion bans in Virginia,” said Jamie Lockhart, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia. “All three of the dangerous anti-abortion proposals before this committee represented grave threats to Virginians’ health and rights, and we are thrilled to now celebrate their defeat. We are grateful to our legislative champions on the Senate Education and Health Committee, Senators Lucas, Saslaw, Howell, Locke, Barker, Petersen, Edwards, Hashmi, and McPike, whose votes today reflected the will of the people in our commonwealth and protected patients’ access to essential health care free from political interference.”
Read more from AP.
NEW YORKERS TO VOTE ON EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT IN 2024: This week, the New York legislature passed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), bringing the amendment to New Yorkers to ratify in November 2024. The ERA would prohibit discrimination by the government based on a person’s ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, and sex — including their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes. It would also protect against any government actions that would curtail a person’s reproductive autonomy or their access to reproductive health care and for the first time, explicitly include language to clarify that discrimination based on a person’s pregnancy or pregnancy outcome is sex discrimination.
"New Yorkers overwhelmingly support measures that advance equality in this state, and today the legislature has passed landmark legislation to add an Equal Rights Amendment to our state constitution,” Georgana Hanson, interim President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, said. ”Now we turn to 2024 when the voters will go to the ballot box and make a critical decision that would not only defend our reproductive rights in our State’s foundational document, but also protect New Yorkers from discrimination on the basis of age, race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity – all communities whose rights are on the line. With the federal constitutional right to abortion granted by Roe v. Wade 50 years ago stolen from us last June, New York has taken critical steps to create a State Constitution worthy of the 21st century that protects us all!”
Read more at New York Magazine and Spectrum News.
“COLORADO MOTHER AND DAUGHTER SHARE THEIR ABORTION STORIES, 50 YEARS APART”: This week, Colorado Public Radio featured the stories of a mother and daughter who had abortions 50 years apart. In 2020, Claire discovered she was pregnant and was initially excited before the pregnancy revealed irreconcilable problems in her relationship. She made the decision to have an abortion and traveled to a Planned Parenthood health center in Fort Collins. While Claire was recovering from her abortion, she went to stay with her mother, Dee, which is when her mother decided to share her own abortion story from 1969 — four years before Roe v. Wade. Dee had to travel to Mexico for her abortion and received care at an underground clinic.
“My initial thought was, wow, my mom is one tough cookie,” Claire said. “I can't even imagine how scary that was… It really made me grateful that I had the choice that I did, that I didn't have to fly on an airplane to a different country and put myself at risk in that way.”
However, since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, pregnant people must travel across the country again to receive basic health care, just as Dee had to over 50 years ago. Colorado has seen over 3,600 people travel to the state for abortion care just in 2022, a 125% increase from 2021.
“The distance that people have to travel now has increased so dramatically,” Jack Teter, regional director of government affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said. “We see patients who have driven a thousand miles one way and often do it right in one go to access their care and then drive straight back so that they're not missing any more work.”
“I cannot believe it. My abortion was over a half a century ago, and we have reverted back in time to over a half a century. How scary is that?”
Read more at CPR.