Column: The abortion pill is safe. Is your uterus?


Huge sigh of relief.

In a ruling that I happily admit surprised me, the Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed the obvious: Women should have the right to safe medication abortions.

But ladies, our uteri are not safe yet.

For now, in a unanimous decision, the justices have tossed a case that would have prevented the drug mifepristone from being used by women seeking to end pregnancies.

So mify, as the drug is commonly called, is safe. But this is far from the end of the MAGA war on women.

Let’s be clear on this: The ruling wasn’t actually about the drug. It was about the folks who brought the suit, a bunch of doctors who really didn’t have much of a reason to keep millions of women from accessing care other than they didn’t like the care those women wanted.

That’s not actually a reason to sue, even by Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas standards.

So this ruling is about “standing” and the fact that these docs didn’t have it. Already, antiabortion activists are lining up other cases with defendants whose legal footing is much more solid.

And the Supreme Court is hardly the only front in this war for women’s rights. Here’s three other ways the far-right wants to control female bodies:

First, “fetal personhood” has bubbled up as a scary push by the religious right.

Alito hinted at this concept in the Dobbs ruling, which knocked out Roe vs. Wade, when he referred to an embryo as an “unborn human being.”

In Alabama, we saw this take greater life recently when state Supreme Court judges ruled that embryos created during in vitro fertilization should be considered protected human life (though the state Legislature for now has protected the procedure).

And this week, the Southern Baptist Conference, which speaks for more than 10 million Protestant Americans, announced it would now opposes IVF on those embryos-are-life grounds.

If courts do recognize the idea of fetal personhood, it would pave the way for abortion to be considered not just illegal, but murder. It would also give a state the right to police pregnant women in any way it deems necessary to protect the “unborn child.”

We are already seeing some states attempting to prosecute women for abortions under strict new abortion laws and dozens of states (such as Kansas) either have outright legal language broadly giving fetuses rights or language that edges right up to it. We are closer to this than you think.

The second front on the war on women is contraception.

Though it seems insane and inane to most of us to forbid women from taking the pill or an emergency medication in the immediate aftermath of intercourse to prevent pregnancy, some folks do want to ban it as a form of abortion.

There is a logic to it. If all abortion is illegal, then anything affecting the embryo after conception is off limits.

Finally, there’s former President Trump.

I’ve written before about the Comstock Act, an obscure and angry old law that many speculated the Supreme Court justices might dredge up in this mifepristone case.

That law (which is on the books, but not enforced) theoretically makes it illegal to mail anything that could be used in an abortion — so not just the medication. Hard-liners could argue that anything shipped to an abortion clinic to help it operate could be verboten, even latex gloves.

MAGA types are already floating the frightening notion that if Trump were elected, he could simply bypass courts and Congress and order his Department of Justice to enforce the Comstock Act — ending abortion access without technically ending abortion access.

This week, Trump send a recorded message to the Danbury Institute, an ultraconservative organization that has advocated for abortion to be prosecuted as homicide and called it “child sacrifice.”

He didn’t mention abortion, but there’s this:

“These are gonna be your years, because you’re gonna make a comeback like just about no other group,” he said. “I know what’s happening, I know where you’re coming from and where you’re going, and I’ll be with you side by side.”

So while Thursday’s ruling is a welcome win in the fight to keep women equal, it’s a victorious battle.

The war continues.



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