On Jan. 3, 2023, the FDA announced that certified pharmacies will be allowed to dispense the abortion medication mifepristone to people with a prescription, removing the requirement that only a healthcare provider may dispense the medication.
In a 2022 report, the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute found that between 36 to 47 abortions were performed per 1,000 women (ages 15-49) yearly in countries where abortion is broadly legal. In countries where abortion is banned, between 31 and 51 abortions were performed per 1,000 women (ages 15-49) yearly.
On Sep. 1, 2022, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced an interim final rule that the VA would provide abortions to veterans and VA beneficiaries in some cases, regardless of state laws. Abortions will be available if the life or health of the pregnant person is in danger and in cases of rape and incest.
The following day, Aug. 24, 2022, US District Judge B. Lynn Winmill blocked an Idaho ban on emergency abortions. Winmill wrote the court was tasked with determining “whether Idaho’s criminal abortion statute conflicts with a small but important corner of federal legislation. It does.” The conflict between the Aug. 23 ruling and the Aug. 24 ruling could send abortion rights back to the US Supreme Court.
On Aug. 23, 2022, US District Court Judge James Wesley Hendrix ruled that the HHS guidance about the EMTALA was “unauthorized.”
On July 13 2022, the Biden Administration issued clarifying guidance with examples of when pharmacies that receive federal assistance (including via Medicare and Medicaid payments) are not allowed to refuse to fill prescriptions for drugs that may end a pregnancy lest they violate federal civil rights laws.
In guidance issued by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on July 11, 2022, the Biden Administration “reaffirmed that it [the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA)] protects providers when offering legally-mandated, life- or health-saving abortion services in emergency situations” and that, in emergency situations, “this federal law preempts state law restricting access to abortion in emergency situations.”
On July 8, 2022, President Joe Biden signed “Executive Order on Protecting Access to Reproductive Healthcare Services.” The order directs Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit a report within 30 days on what actions HHS is taking to protect access to abortion and other reproductive services; states HHS will expand access to emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraception as well as education about abortion; directs HHS to update physician responsibilities and protections guidance under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act; establishes an interagency reproductive health care access task force; collects private pro bono lawyers and organizations to provide legal representation to those seeking and providing abortions; directs the Federal Trade Commission and HHS to consider taking steps to protect patient privacy; and providing safety to those seeking and providing abortions.
On June 24, 2022, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in a 6-3 decision, eliminating the federal constitutional right to abortion.
A June 2, 2022 Gallup poll found 58% of Americans are opposed to overturning Roe v. Wade, and 55% of Americans identified as “pro-choice.”
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A first draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito indicated the court would overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The final opinion, which could be different than the leak, is not due to be published by the Supreme Court until late June 2022.
On Dec. 16, 2021, the FDA permanently lifted the in-person requirements for mifepristone, which will be available via telemedicine appointments and the mail. However, telemedicine appointments for abortions were banned in 19 states and six states had bans on mailing the pills in place at the time of the decision.
A Sep. 22, 2021 Marquette Law School survey found 20% were in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, 50% were opposed, and 29% said they didn’t have enough information. Two other surveys support the findings.
On Sep. 1, 2021, the most restrictive “fetal heartbeat” law to date went into effect in Texas after the US Supreme Court refused in a 5-4 vote to block the law. The law bars abortions after six weeks, has no exceptions for rape or incest, and has only a narrow exception for the health of the mother. Further, the law bars state officials from enforcing the law, instead deputizing private citizens who may bring a $10,000 lawsuit (plus legal fees) against anyone they suspect of performing or “aiding and abetting” an abortion, making the law more difficult to challenge in court.