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How the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on abortion medication will affect Ohio

Carl DMaster

The U.S. Supreme Court has preserved access to a medication that was used in two-thirds of abortions last year. The justices unanimously rejected a challenge to the federal process for prescribing mifepristone, one of the two medications that are using to induce abortion in the early weeks of pregnancy.

A group of doctors who oppose abortion had sued over the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone. The high court rejected the legal challenge, saying they didn’t have standing to sue.

“The plaintiffs have sincere legal, moral, ideological, and policy objections to elective abortion and to FDA’s relaxed regulation of mifepristone,” wrote Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the decision. “But under Article III of the Constitution, those kinds of objections alone do not establish a justiciable case or controversy in federal court.”

Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, which is necessary for pregnancy. The drug is used with another medicine, misoprostol, to terminate pregnancies of ten weeks or less. The state’s most recent abortion report shows mifepristone was used in 8,966 of the 18,488 abortions performed in Ohio in 2022.

Even though the decision was based on a technicality, Abortion Forward Executive Director Kellie Copeland said the court’s ruling is good news for abortion rights in Ohio.

“Over half of the people who access abortion in Ohio and other places elect to use medication abortion,” Copeland said.

Opponents of abortion say they’ll continue to raise challenges to it. And both sides say the future of legal abortion is likely to be determined by who wins political races this fall.

Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion access and reproductive rights in November. The state law banning abortion after six weeks was already in the courts before that vote and is still on hold. The Ohio Supreme Court sent the case back to a Hamilton County judge, who could rule on that any time.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.