Tough Abortion Battles Lie Ahead as Medication, State Laws Take Center Stage

2023 will be filled with brutal battles on abortion, with the fate of state laws and the question of medication-induced abortions likely to grow in public prominence after the Supreme Court killed its own 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, according to a report.

Messy Legal Challenges

In June 2022, in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Org, SCOTUS ended nearly 50 years of federally lawful abortion and once again gave states the right to decide on the matter for themselves.

This led to dozens of states trying to introduce full-fledged abortion bans, with complex political and legal battles ensuing.

As of December 2022, abortion bans have been allowed in ten states, while in eight other states, prohibitions of abortion remain blocked, Reuters reports.

The report forecasts the fight over “abortion rights” would see “new battle lines” next year, with experts predicting that “uncertainty” over the matter would continue or even worsen.

A report by the Guttmacher Institute issued in October claimed the Dobbs ruling of the Supreme Court left over 20 million females of childbearing age without “access to abortion.”

Many states have seen courts blocking their newly adopted abortion bans with emergency orders. These are often reversed in days or weeks, while lawsuits remain far from settled.

In eight of the 18 states with abortion bans, those have been legally challenged. The matter reached the highest courts in two “deeply conservative” states – South Carolina and Indiana.

The report forecasts that 2023 will see decisions offering “certainty” on some abortion-related issues, but at the same time, there are going to be new battlefronts on other abortion issues.

Rutgers Law School professor Kimberly Mutcherson is quoted as warning that temporary blocks on abortion bans don’t mean the bans wouldn’t end up being approved eventually.

She said the Dobbs ruling by SCOTUS had forced states to “think more deeply” about their constitutions’ legal provisions on abortion.

Mutcherson pointed out that state constitutions emphasizing privacy or equal rights for women helped some of the most successful challenges to abortion bans. No such provisions exist in the American Constitution.

Measures on Abortion Pills Increasingly Likely

Apart from state laws on abortion and any respective bans, the other biggest issue is the fate of abortion pills. Anti-abortion groups have already launched a lawsuit demanding that one of the drugs used for the purpose be banned.

The report stresses medication abortion already accounts for over 50% of abortions performed in the United States every year, not to mention the Dobbs ruling caused a surge in demand.

As more abortion pills are imported into the US from abroad, conservative states may be expected to use legislation to try to prevent the arrival of such shipments.

With the reversal of Roe v. Wade, abortion has become more of a campaign issue for Democrats than Republicans, who used to drive its popularity.

Earlier this year, voters in Kentucky and Kansas turned down anti-abortion ballot measures. Last month, South Carolina’s legislature voted against an almost-total abortion ban, construed to mean that even conservative states may abstain from stringent prohibitions.

This article appeared in The State Today and has been published here with permission.