Supreme Court set to delve into post-Roe abortion disputes

The Supreme Court will debate a number of contentious abortion-related cases that arose following the overturning of Roe vs. Wade during its final session of the year.

At issue are cases on whether states can enforce abortion laws they have passed and the use of the abortion pill, mifepristone.

“Several key cases are headed to the justices. One is Idaho’s emergency request to fully enforce its abortion law, a ruling that is possible as soon as this week. At the justices’ Friday conference, they are scheduled to consider whether to take up an appeal seeking to overturn a Supreme Court precedent allowing laws that ban anti-abortion activists from approaching people outside abortion clinics,” The Hill reported.

“And at next week’s conference, the justices are slated to review whether to take up the dispute over the availability of mifepristone, the common abortion pill, which they will take up at a Dec. 8 closed-door conference,” the news outlet added. “Agreeing to hear that dispute would mark the highest-stakes abortion case since last year’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned decades of constitutional abortion protections.”

The case considerations by SCOTUS come in the wake of a study conducted by the Institute of Labor Economics that found that after Roe vs. Wade was overturned, “in the first six months of 2023, births rose by an average of 2.3 percent in states enforcing total abortion bans,” leading to an estimated 32,000 additional births.

The availability and the supply of the abortion pill have been highly contested. It is reportedly used in over half of all abortions that take place across the country according to The Hill.

The approval of the drug was suspended in April by a Trump-appointed federal judge. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals went on to rule that the pill could stay on the market but decided to uphold rolling back changes by the FDA that make it easier to get the drug.

“The 5th Circuit ruled the FDA acted improperly when it said mifepristone can be used up to 10 weeks of pregnancy rather than seven, allowed the medication to be mailed to patients, lowered the dosage, and permitted providers other than physicians to prescribe the drug,” The Hill wrote.

Petitions submitted by the Biden administration and Danco Laboratories, the manufacturer of mifepristone, will be heard by the justices on the ruling.

“If the portions of that order affirmed by the Fifth Circuit are now allowed to take effect, it would upend the regulatory regime for mifepristone, with damaging consequences for women seeking lawful abortions and a healthcare system that relies on the availability of the drug under the current conditions of use,” the Biden Justice Department wrote in submitted court filings.

Alliance Defending Freedom has asked the high court that if it hears the appeals on the drug they should also consider mifepristone’s original approval.

“FDA’s actions concerning mifepristone — spanning from the 2000 Approval to its most recent removal of safeguards — have consistently elevated politics above law, science, and safety,” the attorneys contended in court filings.

The issue of abortion clinic “buffer zones” will also come before the Supreme Court. The court ruled 23 years ago that “the First Amendment permitted a Colorado law prohibiting anti-abortion activists from protesting or counseling within eight feet of someone entering an abortion clinic,” according to The Hill. That ruling, Hill vs. Colorado, is now in serious peril and could be overturned under the premise that it actually violates the First Amendment.

“That legislation has now reached this Court, having deprived many women of their right to receive petitioner’s lawful offers of help,” attorneys at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty told the justices.

“This Court should grant certiorari to overrule Hill, purge its First Amendment jurisprudence of the distorting effects of Roe and Casey, and return the public sidewalks to their rightful position as a place where citizens can peacefully exchange information and offer to help one another without fear of imprisonment,” they added.

The justices will also mull over an emergency application from Idaho officials seeking to fully enforce the state’s abortion “trigger law.” It puts in place criminal penalties for doctors who perform abortions unless the mother’s life is in jeopardy.

“The Biden administration sued over the law, arguing it is preempted by the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. The administration has interpreted the law to protect providers who perform life-saving abortion services in emergency situations, saying it takes precedence over state abortion bans,” The Hill stated.

“Idaho’s attorney general and state legislative leaders, all Republicans, dispute the interpretation and are asking the Supreme Court to stay a lower ruling partially blocking the law. A similar case is ongoing in Texas,” the outlet concluded.

Rulings on the issue could come as soon as later this week.

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