On January 12th, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that women must show up face-to-face to receive the pill that initiates an abortion. Previously, abortion providers had been mailing the medicine given the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Trump administration sought to reinstate a federal limitation that required women to show up in-person to receive the first medication in a two drug regime. The medicine in question, mifepristone, can be taken without supervision according to FDA guidelines.
Mifepristone is the first of two pills used to end a pregnancy early. Mifepristone blocks progesterone and when used with misoprostol, ends pregnancies that are less than 70 days old. A majority of abortions at this early stage as performed using the medicines as opposed to the surgical option.
This case was also the first ruling on abortion that Justice Amy Coney Barrett participated in after being rushed onto the Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. In a 6-3 ruling along ideological boundaries, with Justice Barrett in the majority, the Court found that forcing women to show up face-to-face to receive pregnancy-ending medication did not place an undue burden on the right to choose, the standard set in Casey v. Planned Parenthood, for women seeking an abortion. But Justice Sotomayor, in a dissent, called the reinstated rule and “unnecessary, irrational and unjustifiable undue burden.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic grows more dire in communities across the country, it is unfathomable that an administration on their way out would seek to further put the lives of women at risk who have had to adapt to a mismanaged pandemic response. With a new COVID-19 strain that’s even more infective, hospitals being overcrowded, and unimaginable levels of stress from remote learning, job loss, economic decline, and insurrections, preventing women from exercising their right to choose in a reasonable, safe manner is yet another example of how this administration uses the term “pro-life” as a cover for the bloody trail they’ve left in their wake. This blatant attack on an established constitutional right will inflict more suffering and hardship upon women already experiencing the effects of this administration’s mismanagement and incompetence.