Audio: Upcoming ruling poses threat to abortion pill rights across country


Flickr CC2.0/Robin Marty

Mifepristone is the first pill in a two-pill method of medication abortion. Currently, over half of abortions in America are done by medication abortion.

Clare McRoberts, Features Editor

After the Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade in June of 2022, tensions were high. Abortion opponents praised the decision, and abortion rights supporters protested, fearing what it would mean for reproductive rights long term.

Since then, abortion opponents have pressed for limits to how people in different states are allowed to get abortions, including the medication abortion. The issue is making its way through the courts, and could be answered by the Supreme Court as early as late May. 

The attempt to ban medication abortions focuses on one of the two pills used in this method, mifepristone.

Debra Stulberg, a physician and Lab alumna and parent, is trained in family medicine, and works with clinicians helping to give medical care to people in need. 

“The first thing to start with is that the first pill of the medication abortion regimen, mifepristone, has 30 years worth of safety and effectiveness data supporting it. It’s an extremely safe medication.”

In recent years, the abortion pill has become a particularly popular method for abortion in America. 

“It has become one of the most common ways that people end their pregnancy and I think that’s for a couple reasons. So we’re now in a situation where more than half of all abortions in the US are done by pill rather than a procedure.”

With a ruling possible anytime, the uncertainty has upended clinics and doctors’ offices. Even in a place where abortion remains legal, the battle over medication abortion means doctors aren’t sure what’s next.

“I don’t think being an Illinois completely protects us, but I think it is still better to be in a state where you feel like, you know, as a person who might need to seek these services, your state has your back. But it doesn’t completely protect you.”

We do not know what this upcoming ruling might mean for abortion rights. But it it is sure to produce a larger dialogue like the one set off last summer. Reporting for the Midway, I’m Clare McRoberts.