2021 is officially the most devastating year for abortion rights and reproductive freedoms. With over 100 abortion bans enacted in one year, as well as the continual risk of Roe v. Wade being overturned, and setting off a domino of devastation across the country, this year has set us all into a rollercoaster of emotions. Please check-in with your local activist, abortion provider and reproductive health advocate – times are really tough right now! Despite this, we are determined to make our voices heard louder than ever before. Check out these recent updates in the reproductive health realm (and try not to scream towards the end).
On May 7th, the Biden Administration announced the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will undertake a review of the longstanding restriction on the medication Mifeprex. Also known as Mifepristone or RU 486, Mifeprex is one of the two essential medications used for the medical abortion method and early pregnancy loss care. It has been proven as a safe and effective alternative to procedural abortion for 20 years. These restrictions set in place, known as the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS), have limited access for marginalized populations, as well as burdened the providers with additional licensing. On December 17th, the FDA will be sharing their results of the mifepristone review that could significantly reduce barriers in accessing medication abortion care.
On December 1st, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case about Mississippi’s abortion ban with ramifications for women’s access in MS and various states across the nation. Jackson Women’s Health organization is the last remaining abortion clinic in the state, and they’re challenging a law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy — well before a fetus is viable.This is the first time since 1973 that the Court has heard a case on a pre-viability abortion ban and many reproductive health advocates project that if the Court rules in Mississippi’s favor and Roe falls, half of U.S. states are poised to ban abortion care entirely.
On December 10th, the Supreme Court made the decision on two cases related to SB8, the enduring abortion ban in Texas. In the case United States v. Texas, the Supreme Court outright dismissed the Department of Justice’s attempt to block enforcement of the abortion ban. This means that, after 100 days of deputized citizens enforcing an unconstitutional law, and thousands of marginalized pregnant folks subjected to devastating barriers in obtaining abortion services from neighboring states, the court has decided to metaphorically shrug it’s shoulders and proceed with this madness.
In the Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson case, the court laid out a narrow path for Texas abortion providers to challenge the law. Providers are still able to proceed with their lawsuit, yet only against a limited subset of defendants. We’re feeling betrayed and frustrated, but never discouraged. We will do our part in continuing our efforts for reproductive health and abortion trainings within primary care spaces, in order to increase access for all.
We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it once more: we cannot rely on the courts to protect abortion access. Here’s what you can do right now to take action and #LiberateAbortion:
- Support these abortion funds working in Mississippi.
- Ensure that Congress uses their power to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) and the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act (EACH), which create federal protections for abortion access.
- Donate to help RHAP continue supporting clinicians all across the country, including our brand new Texas Cluster.
- Learn more and share info on social media using the tools given here.
In closing out the year, let’s ensure our demands are heard. Remember to stand firmly in your personal values, ongoing initiatives that bring you joy and personal time for self-reflection.