The Worst Judge in America Could Outlaw the Abortion Pill Nationwide. It Gets Worse.
By Episode 28’s Dahlia Lithwick, coauthored with Mark Joseph Stern
Originally posted on Slate.com on Feb. 6, 2023
Dobbs Was Always Just the Beginning
A single judge could outlaw the abortion pill nationwide. And that’s not even the worst of it.
When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, it promised to “return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” In virtually every instance in which it’s been returned to the people, which has mostly happened by ballot initiative and referendum, the people have acted to protect reproductive rights. Perhaps that explains why less than a year after the fall of Roe, conservative activists are trying to put the issue of abortion access into the hands of a single man for whom no one ever voted: a federal judge in Texas named Matthew Kacsmaryk. In the coming weeks, there is a very real possibility that Kacsmaryk will single-handedly outlaw medication abortion in all 50 states, massively disrupting access to reproductive health care across the entire country. Worse, there is a substantial likelihood that higher courts—including the Supreme Court—will let him get away with it.
Let’s be clear that the legal battle over medication abortion became inevitable the moment Roe fell. Over the past 50 years, reproductive health care has undergone a dramatic shift: A majority of American patients now terminate their pregnancies with pills rather than by undergoing a procedure at a clinic. This makes good sense, as medication abortions are 18 times safer than childbirth, very reliable, and easy to access. In the 23 years since the FDA first approved the “abortion pill,” the agency has slowly loosened restrictions on prescriptions (though regulations remain irrationally stringent for the minimal risks of these pills). Meanwhile, a booming gray market for the medication has sprung up online following the end of Roe. Today, virtually anyone anywhere in the United States can order pills to their door, legally or otherwise. This infuriates anti-abortion activists who wanted to see this issue settled with the clinic closures and vigilante laws that followed S.B. 8 and Dobbs.
Ep. 28 Looking Forward on the Final Episode of Season 1 with Mini Timmaraju, president of NARAL, and Dahlia Lithwick, activist author
Lady Liberty is V.E.R.Y.* Pissed Podcast awakens women in America to the significance of the loss of their reproductive rights and voting rights, and to the lack of women’s equal rights in the U.S. Constitution. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, our worst fears about our loss of liberty were confirmed. Our purpose is to educate listeners about how our reproductive rights, voting rights, and equal civil rights are linked, and how to rise up and fight strategically to re-claim women’s equality. Join our army and fight with us to protect these inalienable rights in this crucial midterm election year — and save our democracy!
*Voting rights, Equal rights, Reproductive rights, Yes!
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