Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fights over medical abortion

The newest front in the legislative war over abortion access is the regulation of "medical abortion" performed in the first eight weeks or so of pregnancy.

Pro-life activists express many concerns about medical abortion (questions about its safety, for example). Their true cause for alarm is that medical abortion allows for abortions to occur outside of the clinic structure-- the abortion experience occurs largely at home, and, in some states, family planning doctors are prescribing the drugs remotely (through a kind of Skype-like arrangement).

Anti-abortion legislatures have been achieving a measure of success against clinics by passing TRAP laws. In other words, legislatures are restricting abortion access by regulating clinics out of business. Medical abortion rewrites the rules because it allows abortions to be decentralized and privatized, so a pillar of recent American pro-life strategy will be severely undermined with its proliferation.

Michelle Goldberg and Emily Bazelton have written excellent analyses of anti-abortion laws aimed at stopping this new trend. Note that the U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing a case this term on a medical abortion law in Oklahoma.


Article in Slate by Emily Bazelton (September 10, 2013): The Cleverest New Anti-Abortion Law

Article in The Daily Beast by Michelle Goldberg (September 9, 2013): The Triumph of Bureaucracy Over Abortion Rights

Article in The Guardian (July 15, 2013): North Dakota law banning medical abortion struck down