The Latest on Medication Abortion (Updated regularly)
Another day, another decision in the ongoing court battles over the accessibility of mifepristone, used in medication abortion and miscarriage care. We know this is getting confusing, but confusion is the point for the anti-abortion activists, as confusion ultimately means fewer patients access care.
While the landscape continues to shift, National Council of Jewish Women will be here every step of the way to explain the situation and push for expanded access.
Make sure not to miss any updates by signing up for our Jews for Abortion Access email list.
Here is the latest:
Friday, April 14, 2023
Last night, Judge Thomas Rice of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington (Washington state) issued yet another decision, distinct from the first decision he issued last Friday, April 7, which blocks the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from making any changes to its provision of mifepristone in 17 states and the District of Columbia.
Last night’s decision requires continued availability of mifepristone — without the obstacles required by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision — in 17 states (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia. As a reminder, the restrictions of the Fifth Circuit include: the prevention of mailing the pill, requiring at least three in-person provider visits for patients to obtain the drug, and shortening the window of availability from ten weeks of pregnancy to seven weeks. (See more in our email from yesterday below this one.) All of these restrictions make it more challenging for pregnant people to obtain the reproductive health care they need.
Here is what we know:
- Mifepristone is still available for now, but with limited access in the states that are not involved in the Washington state case.
- The Washington state decision is a direct challenge to the Fifth Circuit Court’s decision and sets up more legal challenges in the courts.
- Today, the Department of Justice is expected to ask the US Supreme Court to overturn Judge Kacsmaryk’s decision.
- The fight for access to medication abortion is not over.
We will continue to keep you updated as these and other related mifepristone cases make their way through the courts. Follow us on our social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) and post on your own platforms using our social media guide as your Shabbat observance allows. And, be sure to add your voice to our Jewish communal pledge for medication abortion access, and share it with your family, friends, and colleagues. Additionally, there are a number of in-person events across the country this weekend, which can be found here and here.
As we prepared for the last Shabbat, we shared a new blessing for reproductive freedom with our Rabbis for Repro, in the hope that support for medication abortion would be spoken from bimas across the country during this critical time. We offer it to you, as well, for another opportunity to raise our communal voices for a world where everyone can make their own decisions about their bodies and their futures.
Thursday, April 13
Last night, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked Judge Kacsmaryk’s decision to reverse the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone, set to take effect tomorrow, April 14. This means that while mifepristone is still available for now, this ruling continues to significantly limit access, including:
- Preventing mailing the pill.
- Requiring at least three in-person provider visits.
- Shortening the window of obtaining the pill from 10 weeks of pregnancy to seven weeks.
We are still determining what the decision means for miscarriage care, but what we do know is that this decision does not go far enough to protect access to safe and effective medication abortion. It is not lost on us that these court decisions are being released during Passover, a time when we tell the story of our freedom while simultaneously our rights continue to be curtailed.
The fight for access to medication abortion is not over. The Washington state decision blocking the FDA from making any changes to its provision of mifepristone is still in effect and may contradict this new decision out of the Fifth Circuit. There are also two other cases in which courts are being asked to expand access to medication abortion. We expect the US Supreme Court to intervene, too.
Follow us on our social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) and post on your own platforms using our social media guide as your holiday and Shabbat observance allow. And, be sure to add your voiceto our Jewish communal pledge for medication abortion access, and share it with your family, friends, and colleagues.
The Exodus from Egypt was a long march towards liberation. Together with all of you, we will not stop working for a world where every person is able to access comprehensive, affordable, compassionate, and equitable abortion care.