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August 17, 2023 Update

Mifepristone litigation:

On Wednesday, August 16, a federal appeals court said the FDA overstepped its authority when it made the drug more accessible and ruled to limit access to the abortion pill. The ruling from a three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals is not expected to immediately affect access to mifepristone. For now, an earlier US Supreme Court decision pausing any changes to the status quo stands, with an appeal of the federal court’s ruling to the highest court expected in short order.

Recent state actions:

  • Florida: On September 8, Florida will hold a hearing on its current 15-week gestational ban. This will affect whether and when a six-week ban will take effect.
  • Idaho: In July, two advocacy groups and an attorney who works with victims of sexual assault sued Idaho over a new law they claim makes it illegal to help minors get an abortion without parental consent. Idaho already bans abortion at all stages of pregnancy. In May, a new law was passed revoking the right of a minor to cross state lines for abortion care absent parental consent. The case contends that the new law is vague and violates a First Amendment right to discuss abortion with minors and a Fourth Amendment right to unrestricted interstate travel. Several states, including Washington, filed an amicus brief challenging the Idaho travel ban, arguing the new law is harmful and flooding Idaho’s neighboring states with individuals seeking care.
  • Iowa: Less than twelve hours after Iowa passed new abortion restrictions to ban most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, the ACLU and abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, challenged the law in district court. The case is pending.
  • Maine: In July, Maine’s governor signed a bill into law allowing abortion access later in pregnancy if deemed necessary by a physician. The previous law banned abortions at roughly 24 weeks, except for instances where the patient’s life is at risk. The law is effective 90 days after the completion of the state legislative session.
  • Missouri: In July, two days after hearing arguments on the matter, the state Supreme Court rejected a push by the Attorney General to inflate the cost of an abortion-rights amendment. The fiscal note at the heart of the case was developed as a matter of procedural routine after 11 versions of a proposed constitutional amendment rolling back Missouri’s abortion ban were filed with the secretary of state’s office.
  • Ohio: The state’s upcoming special election has become a proxy war over abortion access. “Issue 1” - a Republican-backed measure that would raise the threshold for future ballot initiatives, changing the current requirement of a simple majority to a mandate that ballot measures must garner 60 percent of the vote to pass - failed at the polls on August 8. Abortion rights advocates who saw the measure as an attempt, primarily by Republicans, to essentially block a pro-abortion rights November ballot initiative resoundingly defeated Issue 1.
  • Texas: In July, a Texas State Court heard testimony in the case of Zurwaski v. State of Texas, featuring emotional testimony by women negatively impacted by the state’s ban on abortion care. The plaintiffs - four women denied abortions and an OB-GYN - testified in a bid to temporarily block Texas’ abortion bans as applied to high-risk pregnancies. On August 4, a judge granted an injunction against Texas’ abortion bans for dangerous pregnancy complications. The court further dismissed the state’s request to dismiss the case and held that SB 9 - a citizen-enforced abortion ban - is unconstitutional. The state appealed, and the injunction was put on hold days later.
  • Wisconsin: In July, a state judge held that an 1849 state statute could not be interpreted as a ban on abortion and allowed a challenge to that law to move forward.

State Legislation and Reproductive Medicine

The ASRM Center for Policy and Leadership (CPL) has released reports concerning States' Abortion Laws and their Potential Implications for Reproductive Medicine. Current as of the date of publication, the reports provide an overview of states’ abortion laws, together with analysis of potential implications for reproductive medicine, including IVF.
APP healthcare professional writing on documents

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