Abortion drug limits outside Illinois would further strain providers here, activists say

Court maneuvers to restrict medication abortions will bring even more demand for Illinois procedures, activists at Friday rally in Chicago warn.

SHARE Abortion drug limits outside Illinois would further strain providers here, activists say
Alicia Hurtado of the Chicago Abortion Fund speaks at a rally for abortion rights near the Wrigley Building on Friday.

Alicia Hurtado of the Chicago Abortion Fund speaks at a rally for abortion rights near the Wrigley Building on Friday.

Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times

Chicago abortion rights advocates on Friday said they expect demand for care in Illinois to rise even higher as dueling court decisions threaten to curtail access in other states to a commonly used medication to end pregnancies.

Illinois abortion providers have already seen an influx of out-of-state patients seeking care as bans on the procedure have been implemented in neighboring states.

Those numbers will keep rising if restrictions on mifepristone — an abortion medication that has been federally approved for more than two decades — take effect in other states, activists said at a downtown rally.

“As more people are needing to travel, the complexity of our cases is only rising,” said Alicia Hurtado of the Chicago Abortion Fund, which connects people seeking care with providers. Access to the drug has not been limited in Illinois.

The fund has already helped almost 3,000 people this year, and the mifepristone restrictions present another “uphill battle,” Hurtado said.

“Banning mifeprestone or restricting its use will not stop medication abortion in this country,” Hurtado said. “It will simply make it harder on people who are already battling chaos and confusion amid an already intense and devastating abortion access crisis.”

Last week, a Texas judge ruled mifepristone sales should be halted as part of a lawsuit challenging the drug’s 2000 approval by the Food and Drug Administration. But another judge in Washington state sided with attorneys general in 18 states — including Illinois — who filed suit to protect access to mifepristone.

An appellate court on Wednesday partially overturned the Texas decision, but ruled that the drug must be used under its 2000 prescription rules, potentially preventing it from being shipped by mail.

The issue landed Friday before U.S. Supreme Court justices who last summer overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that had protected abortion rights at the federal level for nearly half a century.

In the latest decision, the high court sided with President Joe Biden’s administration in temporarily blocking the mifepristone restrictions while the legal battles play out. That decision could be revisited next week.

Illinois lawmakers have cemented rights to abortion access through legislation in recent years, and mifepristone “will continue to be available in Illinois without the restrictions Texas courts have attempted to reinstate,” state Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a statement.

“I continue to closely monitor these cases as they move quickly throughout the courts, and I am committed to using all available tools to protect access to abortion in Illinois and around the country,” Raoul said.

Contributing: Associated Press

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