Almost five decades after the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationwide, abortion rights are at great risk. Across the country, Republican-majority states are introducing bills to ban abortion at a rapid rate. At least 15 GOP-controlled states have introduced bills that ban abortion despite circumstances of incest or rape, with some proposed bans beginning as early as 30 days after conception.
These bills even target doctors and others who help individuals get abortions. But that's not all: Aside from restricting health care providers from performing abortions, some states are now coming after the pill. Since more than half of abortions are taking place with the help of oral birth control pills, Republican states are looking to ban the Food and Drug Administration-regulated non-surgical procedure, NPR reported.
"For a lot of people, having the option of having an abortion in the privacy and comfort of their own home is appealing,” Rachel K. Jones, a research scientist with the abortion rights-supporting Guttmacher Institute, told NPR.
According to data released by Guttmacher earlier this year, abortion pills accounted for 54% of abortions in 2020, making them the preferred method of choice for abortion.
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While the drug was approved by the FDA more than 20 years ago, restrictions on mailing abortion pills were lifted during the pandemic and the pill could be obtained through telehealth appointments and mail-order pharmacies. This allowed individuals to easily obtain abortions at home, especially in states that considered them unnecessary procedures during a time that hospitals were at capacity with COVID-19 patients.
Because the Biden administration recently made these changes to access permanent, GOP states are attempting to push back.
According to Guttmacher, more than a dozen states limit the use of telemedicine to provide abortion pills. In addition to these current restrictions, Planned Parenthood says new restrictions have been introduced in two dozen states this year alone, some of which would ban the pills altogether if Roe v. Wade is overturned, NPR reported.
While these bills not only restrict human rights but often put lives at risk, GOP officials predictably continue to claim they are an effort to “protect women.”
"Why would we not do everything within our power to protect women's health and safety during this difficult time in their lives?" said state Sen. Bruce Thompson of Georgia, according to NPR. Thompson sponsored SB 456, a bill banning abortion pill delivery by mail and requiring doctors to examine patients in person before prescribing them.
Others, however, have noted how these bills and bans on the pill disproportionately impact people of color.
"What's really cruel about this bill is that those who are already the most vulnerable are the ones who are most likely to be burned by this injustice," state Sen. Kim Jackson told NPR. "People who are poor, people who live in rural communities. People with disabilities, and people of color."
The move in Republican-majority states to pass abortion bans modeled on Texas’ so-called abortion bounty law follows the passing of a separate law in Mississippi, which is currently making its way to the Supreme Court. The law has the ability to limit abortion rights across the country by overturning Roe v. Wade.