Anti-choice extremists are declaring war on abortion drugs: report

Anti-choice extremists are declaring war on abortion drugs: report
Abortion pills in May 2020 (Wikimedia Commons)

HuffPost has been publishing a series of articles titled “The End of Roe,” examining some of the many terrible consequences of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade — which, judging from a leaked 5-4 majority draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito and published by Politico on May 2, is likely to happen with the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The consequences of overturning Roe will go way beyond abortion becoming illegal in a long list of red states, giving the High Court’s socially conservative majority the green light to also attack everything from contraception (Griswold v. Connecticut) to same-sex marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges) to gay sexual practices (Lawrence v. Texas) to interracial marriage (Loving v. Virginia).

Overturning Roe will open the floodgates of Christian nationalist hell, and that includes outlawing abortion drugs in GOP-controlled states. Journalist Alanna Vagiano addresses that very real possibility in an article written for HuffPost’s “The End of Roe” series that was published on June 17.

“There’s a new war on drugs looming, but it won’t involve addictive narcotics or SWAT teams banging down doors,” Vagiano warns. “Instead, the approaching battle will be over medication that is safer than Tylenol and approved by the Food and Drug Administration: abortion drugs.”

Far-right Christian fundamentalists hate abortion drugs as vehemently as they hate birth control pills, IUDs and condoms. Their hatred of contraception is ironic because contraception prevents unwanted pregnancies and therefore, prevents the need for abortions; no organization has done more to reduce the number of abortions in the United States than Planned Parenthood, which, through its family planning services, does a lot to help women avoid unplanned pregnancies.

But the Christian Right not only opposes abortion — it opposes family planning in general.

“Anti-choice lawmakers and other abortion opponents are banking on you not knowing about medication abortion,” Vagiano observes. “Many have already started explicitly attacking access to abortion pills: In the first three months of 2022 alone, more than 100 measures attempting to restrict medication abortion were introduced in red states across the country ― in addition to dozens of other extreme abortion restrictions that have gone into effect this year…. With or without Roe, anti-choice lawmakers know the next chapter in abortion care will center on medication abortion. And they’re starting to quietly wage a war, hoping to cut off access to a safe and effective abortion method before most Americans even know about it.”

Vagiano laments that in some red states, “obtaining abortion pills in a clinic setting” is “becoming increasingly more difficult.”

“In the last few years, anti-choice lawmakers have ramped up their efforts to restrict access to in-person clinic care by using targeted regulation of abortion providers, also known as TRAP laws, and other medically unnecessary restrictions, such as state-mandated waiting periods between the consultation and getting the pills prescribed, required counseling that’s not based in science or laws that force people to listen to fetal activity before accessing an abortion,” Vagiano notes. “In states like Oklahoma and Texas, which have extreme abortion bans, people are forced to take multiple-day journeys out of state just to access a handful of abortion pills.”

Vagiano points out that anti-abortion groups like the Susan B. Anthony List and Americans United for Life have publicly stated that restricting abortion drugs is a high priority for them, adding that “19 states” in the U.S. have “banned prescribing medication abortion via mail or by virtual telehealth visits.”

“This year alone, Missouri lawmakers introduced bills that would equate mailing abortion pills to drug trafficking,” Vagiano explains. “In Kentucky, lawmakers created a public database that lists the name of medication abortion providers so that people can anonymously report any purported violations of the state’s abortion laws. Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill making it a felony to mail medication abortion, punishable by a $50,000 fine or up to 20 years in prison ― a similar law passed in Texas last year. And all of the draconian abortion bans in places like Texas, Oklahoma and Idaho apply to both procedural and medication abortions.”

But supporters of reproductive freedom aren’t giving up, and that includes Plan C — a group that offers information on obtaining abortion pills.

Elisa Wells, Plan C’s co-founder and co-director, told HuffPost, “In the face of these unjust laws and unjust court decisions, this is what we want people to know: There is something you can do. We’ll tell you where to find these pills, how to use them, how to get support and what you need to know about the landscape around using pills for self-managed abortion, including the potential legal risk.”

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