by Michael McAuliff, Dave Goldiner and Josephine Stratman, published April 13
A federal appeals court ban on dispensing the abortion pill mifepristone by mail could prove to have a significant impact on women’s reproductive rights in New York in wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year.
Many of the restrictions that have been rolled out so far on a state-by-state basis have had little effect in New York, where abortion is legal and additional safeguards have been put into place. But since the federal court ruling affects the mail – and many women have mifepristone shipped to their homes – New Yorkers could soon feel the effects, even as the broader question of access to mifepristone is debated in the courts.
“This is a brazen attack on access to safe reproductive health care,” Councilwoman Carlina Rivera told the Daily News. “It’s another step forward for the movement to ban abortion nationwide. … If this drug were to become unavailable, New York City would only be able to provide the misoprostol-only treatment regimen and that would eliminate the most commonly used treatment in the United States.”
After Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, Rivera sponsored a bill that requires city-run health clinics to supply abortion pills at no cost.
City elected officials have little power to stop federal rulings like this one, threatening New York’s status as an oasis for reproductive care.
“It’s certainly alarming,” Rivera said. “It’s very, very unsettling to have this go even as far as it has, to see Roe. v. Wade overturned, and now to see these decisions made by a panel of judges.
The controversial mifepristone case is likely to go at some point to the top court, which less than a year ago overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide a half century ago.