South Carolina Supreme Court rejects six-week abortion ban
The South Carolina Supreme Court has thrown out a new state law that banned abortions at roughly six weeks into pregnancy, calling it unconstitutional, thus leaving abortion legal through 22 weeks of pregnancy, in a 3-2 vote. The majority said that privacy rights inserted in the state constitution do extend to a woman’s right to an abortion.
SOURCE: The Post and Courier, by Seanna Adcox, 5 January 2023 ; PHOTO by John A Carlos II: Protest outside the South Carolina State House when the fall of Roe v. Wade was announced, 24 June 2022
US Justice Department clears US Postal Service to deliver abortion pills by post and via some pharmacies +
US FDA allows some pharmacies to dispense pills but with many bureaucratic controls and restrictions
More than half of all US abortions are induced with pills, and this proportion is expected to increase as access to clinics is reduced by negative state laws.
In a memo posted online on 3 January 2023, the US Justice Department cleared the US Postal Service to deliver abortion pills to states that have strict limits on terminating pregnancy, and has offered limited assurances that a federal law addressing the issue won’t be used to prosecute people criminally over such mailings. A legal opinion from Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, concluded that a nearly 150-year-old statute aimed at fighting “vice” through the mail is not enforceable against mailings of abortion pills as long as the sender does not know that the pills will be used illegally.
The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), rejected two citizen petitions, one calling for more restrictions and the other for fewer restrictions, and announced a new process by which retail pharmacies could become certified to dispense abortion pills. This filled in the details of an announcement they made in December 2021 that patients would no longer be required to go to a clinic to pick up medical abortion pills and that certified pharmacies would be allowed to dispense them. While this is potentially great news, the devil is in the details.
This is because the FDA has maintained a system of bureaucratic controls and restrictions on what pharmacies must do in order to be certified to provide pills. According to an article in The Nation: “To become certified to dispense mifepristone, a pharmacy must commit to doing 14 things that go far beyond what they must do for other prescribed medications…. The long list of requirements for pharmacy certification won’t improve the safety of medication abortion, but it will serve as a barrier to expanding the number of pharmacies that dispense mifepristone. It’s wonderful news that CVS and Walgreens plan to become certified to dispense mifepristone where legally allowed [two major pharmacy chains across the country], but we worry that smaller retail pharmacies may steer clear of certification because of the associated hassle (or pressure from anti-abortion ideologues). If they are the only pharmacy in a rural area, for example, access won’t be expanded.”
Moreover, in all the states with strict anti-abortion bans, it may still be very “challenging” to receive the medications from a pharmacy.
SOURCES: The Nation, by Renee Bracey Sherman, Dr Daniel Grossman, Tracy Weitz, 6 January 2023 ; Politico, by Josh Gerstein, Alice Miranda Ollstein, 3 January 2023 ; MSNBC, by Ja’han Jones, 4 January 2023 ; CNN, by Jacqueline Howard, CNN, 4 January 2023 ; National Public Radio, by Vanessa Romo, 5 January 2023 ; Politico, by Alice Miranda Ollstein, 5 January 2023